The telecommunication network in Sikkim has collapsed after the Sikkim government disconnected electricity connection to 27 out of the 43 BSNL exchanges in the state, including the main telephone exchange in Gangtok over an alleged non payment of 15 year-old electricity dues, severely affecting the functioning of administrative installation in the state including critical military, defence and strategic installations.
Sikkim based BSNL officials said that the communication infrastructure had collapsed in the state as electricity to 27 out of 43 exchanges in the state was working without power. “The disconnection began on 23 February and on Saturday, power connection to the main exchange was snapped. Right now the exchanges are running from diesel generators, for which we are paying from our pockets”, the official said. According to officials, this stop-gap arrangement of using generators would not last too long.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, the power minister of the state, Dorjee Dajum Bhutia, confirmed the disconnection of electricity to the BSNL exchanges in the state.
“The electricity was disconnected 2-3 days back as they have not paid the electricity bill that has been pending for long. We had reminded them thrice but despite that the payment was not done”, he said.
After the power was disconnected, senior state BSNL officials approached a senior secretary level officer of the state seeking resumption of services stating that they will be forced to bring the matter into the notice of minister concerned Ravi Shankar Prasad and the Prime Minister’s Office after which they were asked “not to threaten” the state government by invoking the name of the PMO and the minister.
Senior BSNL officials aware of the development said that the state government had acted in haste without informing the BSNL about the pending dues, if any. “We have checked the last one year bill records and no instance of any bill being due have been found. The state government is claiming that old bills, starting from 2001 to 2006, was not paid due to which they have disconnected the electricity connection. Even if that is the case, the government needs to understand that to check records that are 16 years old will take time. Why did the government wait for so many years to bring this due amount into our notice?” an official said.
The disconnection of electricity to the telephone exchanges has caused an adverse effect on essential services in the state including banking services.