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End to telecom stalemate

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The fortnight-long stalemate between Group A telecom officers and the Government was broken on Thursday with a closed-door meeting with Minister for Communications and Information Technology Dayanidhi Maran and Communications Secretary J. S. Sarma.

Though both sides were tight-lipped, it is learnt that the officers' views have been conveyed to the Prime Minister's Office which took note of the tough line taken by the bureaucracy in the Department of Telecom leading to resentment and a spate of court cases by the Group A telecom officers.

``It was a closed-door meeting. There is nothing to say to the press,'' said Mr. Sarma. Telecom officers could not be reached for comments. However, it is learnt that the officers first met the board members of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited who are also group A telecom officers and sympathetic to their cause. This was followed by a meeting with the Minister and senior hierarchy in DoT.

On Monday, Mr. Sarma had accepted a memorandum submitted by the officers and given no assurances. Ties between the two had worsened earlier when over 1,300 Group A officers were suddenly relieved from BSNL and MTNL and stripped of their privileges. The action spared nearly 1,200 officers who obtained stay orders from High Courts and Benches of the Central Administrative Tribunal.

Another 450 officers have submitted their options of remaining with the Government service or getting permanently absorbed in BSNL and MTNL. However, a majority of officers (over 2,500) have requested the Government to set up a high-level committee to determine ``respectable'' service norms for getting absorbed in the two State-owned corporations and giving up their status as government servants.

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