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Lines remain out of order

Thousands of landlines and hundreds of broadband connections in the city are still on the blink, three weeks after a fire broke out in BSNL’s Circus Exchange.

Less than 20 per cent of the 64,500 landline and 1,600 leased line connections affected by the July 7 blaze at the Hungerford Street address have been restored, with BSNL missing two repair deadlines and confusion clouding the all-important question of when normality will be restored.

Subscribers of many of the restored lines are also complaining of cross-connections and intermittent connectivity.

Some banks in the heart of the city are not being able to promise encashing of cheques on time, many restaurants have put up signs saying that they cannot accept credit cards, and several retail outlets are accepting payments only in cash. All because of no — or faulty — connectivity.

“Restoration work is not being given priority, so the pace is tardy and the results are shameful,” admitted a BSNL official.

Bijay Bihari Sarkar, 73, ill and immobile, has been waiting in vain to get in touch with his daughter in Sweden, who was treating him when he was down with double pneumonia. “They said the BSNL broadband connection will be back in a week. Now it is nearly a month. I really need to get in touch with her,” said the resident of Shakespeare Sarani.

The lines at the BSF headquarters on Lord Sinha Road went on the blink again on Sunday after being restored a few days after the fire. Only partial connectivity has been restored to some branches of SBI, Federal Bank and Indian Overseas Bank.

“Three days after the fire our phone lines were restored but since then all we have been getting are cross-connections. Making an international call is like mission impossible,” said Sundeep Bhutoria, from his office on Camac Street.

According to BSNL officials, the faulty lines are caused by “limited connectivity” being given to affected areas like AJC Bose Road, Park Street, Jawaharlal Nehru Road, Bondel Road, Picnic Garden and EM Bypass.

“For example, the remote switching unit for Palm Avenue is supposed to bear up to 240 calls a day but it has been given connection for only 120 calls now. So people can’t complete calls once the day’s limit is reached,” said an official.

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