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Erratic ring to outstation phone calls

If it was dial D for despair on Monday, dial D for determination often did the trick on Tuesday, as the telecom tangle eased marginally. Calcutta callers got through to Delhi, Chennai and some other cities after several attempts, as authorities admitted that the lines were better, but “extremely erratic”.

A senior Calcutta Telephones officer said: “Even subscribers from Delhi could not get through consistently, while callers from Mumbai, Chennai and other cities could connect with Calcutta with great difficulty.”

Engineers of the eastern telecom region, manning the outstation-call circuit, patrolled the switch-rooms to ensure that a section of the staff, currently on a work-to-rule agitation to press home a seven-point demand, do not sabotage services.

General manager R.K. Mishra claimed that the situation was “slightly better” on Tuesday. “None of our 1.3-million subscribers could call Delhi, Chennai and other areas outside West Bengal on Monday,” he admitted.

Telecom engineers said preliminary investigations suggested that “switches had been interchanged’’ so that calls could not “carry through from Calcutta telephone areas to other telecom districts’’. A senior officer of the eastern telecom region explained: “It is a huge circuit maintained by a large workforce of engineers. One has to just turn a switch to disturb the circuit.’’

CalTel officials said on Tuesday that they were losing heavily because of the agitation. “With STD calls dropping drastically, the losses are mounting with every passing hour.”

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