NEW DELHI: The Centre’s plans to monetise the humongous land assets of public sector telecom firms BSNL and MTNL failed to see much fruit last year due to the disruption wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) expects things to be a little better during the next fiscal year, according to a recent report from the Parliamentary Standing Committee for IT. It expects to gain revenues of Rs 1,500 crore from the sale of such land assets.
“Total value of land/building assets identified for monetization in BSNL and MTNL is Rs 67,837 crore and Rs 17,985 crore respectively. Expected revenue from monetization of land/building assets of BSNL and MTNL for year 2021-22 is Rs 1,200 crore and Rs 300 crore respectively,” the report stated.
The Secretary of DoT had submitted to the panel that monetisation of land assets had been a problem last year. “During this past one year period, monetisation was a problem. I do not know what would be the appetite in the market immediately. Land prices have fallen. Rentals have fallen. The realty market has taken some kind of beating... But we did not test the market. So, we cannot say that if we had gone to the market, we would have got less money,” the report quoted the secretary as saying.
The BSNL-MTNL combine doesn’t just have land assets however. According to the DoT, the telco’s core assets such as mobile towers and fibre networks have not faced the same kind of problem.
“BSNL & MTNL have moved fast in monetising their towers and fibre. BSNL has 68,000 towers, out of which 13,000 towers are getting rent. They are getting more than Rs 1,000 crore per annum, on a gross basis, as income from rent.
They have also got about Rs 400 crore as fibre monetisation where they have allowed the dark fibre to be used by others,” the secretary told the panel. As for the land parcels, the pandemic had impacted the assessment work last year, but five properties are ready to go for auction under the DIPAM mechanism.