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DoT may recommend names for BSNL, MTNL chiefs by month end

The Department of Telecom (DoT) could suggest names for the top posts of state-owned telcos Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) by the end of December, even as AN Rai, the interim head of the former, has received a two-month extension, people familiar with the matter said.

MTNL's interim Chairman and Managing Director PK Purwar, whose term is expiring on December 23, is also likely to get an extension for another two months, even as the department proposes fresh names to the appointment committee, one of the people told ET.
Both the loss-making public sector entities have been operating under interim chairman-cum-managing directors since the middle of this year this year.

"There is a selection process and department takes a due look at every application. Based on selection process, we will be recommending names for BSNL and MTNL heads by the end of this month," a second person, who is a senior DoT official, said. MTNL provides telecom services to Mumbai and Delhi service areas, while BSNL caters to the balance 20 circles.

The official added that the selection process involves approval from the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC).

"Since, it is a high-level selection, therefore the defined course of action has to be followed that require necessary endorsements while ACC has to take a final decision," he added, when asked by when can the full time heads of the two companies be appointed.

Following RK Upadhyay's exit as BSNL CMD after completing an extended term on June 30, 2014, the ACC could not clear consumer mobility head Anupam Shrivastava's name ahead of general election 2014, despite Public Enterprises Selection Board's (PESB) recommendation, for reasons not known.

Finally, the PSU's enterprise division director Rai was given interim charge as BSNL CMD on July 1, 2014.

In accordance with the PESB recommendation, finance director at MTNL, Purwar, was also given additional responsibility as CMD, a month after AK Garg's retirement on May 31, 2014.

The uncertainty at top of the state-run telcos come at a time the telecom ministry, under new minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, has put their turnarounds as a priority. These telcos over the years have been unable to compete with the more nimble-footed private sector mobile phone operators and have been posting losses.

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