The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Consumers lay siege to telephone exchange

Asansol, Dec. 5: Angry over the total collapse of telephone services, subscribers locked the only entrance to the Burnpur exchange near here and squatted on the road for more than three hours.

Deputy general manager of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), B.K. Saha, said telephone services in Burnpur “totally collapsed on December 3”, when technicians of Reliance Engineering Associates, a private company, severed the main underground cable while laying their own network.

With the collapse of the Burnpur exchange, more than 500 telephones have also gone “dead” in Asansol town.

The BSNL authorities have lodged an FIR with police against Reliance Engineering for snapping the fibre optic cable under SB Gorai Road near the sub-divisional hospital here.

Saha had to rush to the Burnpur exchange and plead helplessness before the agitated subsrcibers, who numbered around 150. The police were also called in. It took the policemen three hours to convince the subscribers that the authorities would do their best to restore the lines.

A Reliance Engineering spokesmen said here today that the damaged cable would be repaired. “According to the agreement we have with the government, we will definitely repair the damage at our own cost. But it will take two to three days to do so,” the spokesman said.

The Burnpur exchange comprises around 250 public call offices and several industries like the Indian Iron and Steel Company. IISCO officials expressed unhappiness over the telephone distress.

Even the police are at the receiving end with the phone lines down. The Hirapur police station, where all the lines have gone dead, has been relying solely on its wireless system.

Subir Dutta, a PCO owner, said he was without an earning since Tuesday.

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