SRINAGAR: The 68-day long communication clampdown in Kashmir has become a gold-mine of sort for the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), that had otherwise lost its monopoly on communication due to fierce competition in rest of the country.
After phone connectivity was suspended in Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, following the abrogation of Article 370, all landline and mobile phones remained silent for over 45 days.
Internet facility available on both fixed landline connections and mobile phones was naturally snapped during this period.
After 45 days, authorities in Kashmir decided to allow phone connectivity only through BSNL landline connections.
The decision became the proverbial Ali Baba's treasure trove for BSNL that has been finding it hard otherwise to retain its subscriber base in the country.
The fact that for a population of 8 million people in Kashmir, there were only 45,000 BSNL landline connections till August 5, tells the story.
Subscribers had started giving up landline connections in Kashmir after mobile phones ruled the communication business in the country.
With the continuing suspension of mobile phone services, BSNL landline connections have become the only possible communication link between the Valley and the rest of the country after authorities allowed these to function.
This has caused unending queues outside BSNL offices in the Valley with prospective subscribers seeking fresh landline connections and those who had given up their existing connections fighting for the restoration of this service.
A senior BSNL officer said the company has provided over 14,000 additional landline connections in the Valley after the present communication clampdown started here.
"Each day we receive hundreds of applications for landline connections for Srinagar city and other places in the Valley."
"We have the largest presence by way of communication network/exchanges in Kashmir and we are using this advantage to meet the demands of our subscribers," said the official.
Although Internet facility continues to remain suspended on the functioning landline connections in the Valley, the hunger for BSNL landline remains unsatiated.
"Old is gold. In the first place, we should not have given up our BSNL landline connections. Authorities have restored only BSNL landline and it is reported that mobile connectivity will now be restored only on postpaid BSNL mobile phones."
"This leaves all other service providers out of the race," said Sajjad Ahmed, a resident of uptown Jawahar Nagar area of Srinagar.
Whatever the competitive capability of BSNL in the rest of the country, in Kashmir this company has become the unchallenged monarch in the communication industry.