Smart phones, emails and SMS seem to have pushed the humble telegram service to a quiet corner with the BSNL deciding to discontinue the 160-year-old telegraph service from July 15.
Once the main source of quick and urgent communication, the service delivered happy and sad news to people across the country.
As per a circular issued by Shameem Akhtar, Sr General Manager (Telegraph Services) Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) Corporate office, New Delhi, the telegraph service is to be discontinued with effect from July 15, 2013.
The circular sent to various telecom district and circle offices also said that all telegraph offices under the management of BSNL will have to stop booking telegrams from the said date.
The circular has also directed the telecom offices to maintain log books, service messages, delivery slips only for six months from the date of bookings. However, complaints, press reports and other messages from different consumer forum are to be kept for one year.
A source at BSNL, Delhi, said, “We had asked the government to support the service as it was not commercially viable, and the government said the BSNL board should decide on it.
“We have taken a decision to close the service after consultation with the Department of Posts. They also said that there are better options available now,” the source added.
The BSNL has instructed that surplus telegraph staff members would be deployed to mobile services, landline telephony, broadband services, and the shifting could take place within three months.
Faced with declining revenues, the government had in May 2011 revised the telegram charges after 60 years.
Another BSNL employee said telegram services were available only in India while the rest of the world has discontinued it, and it was one reasons behind the decision to discontinue the service.
However, the telegram is still recognised as a legal document in a court of law. It is still used to make mass representations to governments and others, and offices use it to create official records of communication.