CHENNAI: The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has moved the High Court challenging a circular issued by the local administration in the districts demanding rent for laying optical fibre cable (OFC) along public roads.
Justice R Mahadevan, before whom the petition from the BSNL came up for hearing, ordered notice to the Commissioner of Land Administration and the Revenue department of the State government, returnable by two weeks.
Moving the plea on behalf of the BSNL, its deputy general manager, Erode, submitted that the BSNL is a Union government enterprise and 100% equity share of the company is held by the Union government. The BSNL is also defined as ‘State’ within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution, he added.
“The BSNL in Erode district alone is controlling over 120 phone exchanges. To fulfil the obligations of the Centre to develop telecom facility in rural areas under the new telecom policy, the BSNL has already laid OFCs in public ways, after duly paying restoration charges prescribed by the local administration. In Erode district alone, such underground OFCs have been laid for 2,730 km during the past 20 years,” he said.
But, the local administration on March 28 issued a circular demanding annual ‘track rent’ charges from the BSNL and all other private telecom companies based on government orders dated February 12, 2001 and March 23, 2013.