Of installation and construction

Print edition : November 05, 2004

Interview with B.P.S. Pai, Chief General Manager, BSNL Southern Telecom Projects.

B.P.S. Pai, Chief General Manager (CGM), BSNL Southern Telecom Projects (STP), joined the DoT in 1975. During his stint with BSNL, he has served in various capacities, covering a range of operations - from installation to operations and maintenance. He was involved in planning BSNL's networks in Pune, Belgaum and Bangalore. He also underwent training in digital switching technology in Kawasaki, Japan in 1993. In February 2004, 54-year-old Pai was promoted as CGM of STP. Excerpts from an interview he gave V. Sridhar:


Your division is generally not in the limelight. Can you tell us something about what is the mandate of the Southern Telecom Projects?

Our job is to provide long distance communications between cities and towns across the four States in the southern region. We also do this for Pondicherry, Lakshwadeep and Minicoy islands. In Lakshwadeep and Minicoy, we provide the transmission medium for communications among the islands, or provide links through satellite. Our task is to lay optical fibre as a transmission medium for communication among the cities and towns.

How old is this division?

It has been in existence at least from the 1970s. At that time the main work related to installing major telephone exchanges and providing transmission links. The medium for communications was mainly by analogue microwave. Today the medium is usually either optical fibre or digital microwave. Since digital microwave is expensive, optical fibre has become the main medium. During the last two years we have also made an effort to build the Optical Access Network, which is basically aimed at taking the optical fibre to the customer's premises. If this is done, any amount of bandwidth can be accommodated, so that broadband services can be provided.

Is it fair to say that the STP basically executes installation work for BSNL?

We execute work to develop the capability of the network. But the circles in the region interact with customers while providing the services. In Chennai city, for instance, in consultation with Chennai Telephones, we will identify the routes that the Optical Access Network should take. The STP executes the work on the network and then makes it available to Chennai Telephones. We are mainly involved in installation and construction for BSNL in the southern region.

How is your performance evaluated?

We are assigned targets at the beginning of the year. At the end of the year, we are assessed in terms of whether or not we have fulfilled the targets. For instance, last year we were asked to lay 4,300 km of optical fibre, and we laid 4,700 km. The number of persons employed in our division will depend on the quantum of work that the STP has. Employees are drawn from BSNL, and when the work is over they revert to their respective circle.

What is the rationale for having a separate division for construction and installation?

This arrangement allows me to exclusively concentrate on the job of building the network without being distracted by customer pressure. This enables me to concentrate on projects.

What kind of strengths has the STP managed to acquire as a result of implementing various projects?

There is a constant churn of people within BSNL. People come from the circle and then go back. The experience they gather here is useful at the circle level. The STP plays a useful role because it is able to pass on its expertise to the rest of the organisation.

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