The world may mock the existence of the century plus old telegram services in the fast paced electronics age but the BSNL employees union has strongly protested the decision taken by the Bharat Sanchar Nagar Ltd (BSNL) to terminate the service from 15 July, 2013.
"It is a valued service and should be kept as a skeleton service and preserved as a heritage," says the Forum of BSNL Unions/Associations, which represents more than 2.5 lakh workers at Bharat Sanchar Nagar Ltd.
"We are seriously concerned about the closure of the Telegram Service by the management unilaterally. It was incumbent upon the management to consult the recognised unions before taking such a drastic step," said P Abhimanyu, general secretary of the BSNL Employees Union.
Rejecting the BSNL's statement that the service was going through losses, Abhimanyu argued that even in the age of internet and 4G services, telegraphs are used by government departments and public living in rural and remote parts of India.
"Even after the introduction of new technologies like internet, STD, e-mail etc. telegrams are still used by the Military personnel for contacting their families, Medical representatives, people in the rural and backward areas etc. Many banks, FCI, state government etc are also still utilizing the services," forum convener V.A.N. Namboodiri said.
Stressing that efforts should be directed towards making the 160-year-old service profitable rather than terminating it, Namboodiri said, "The Forum demands that minimum services should be maintained in the interest of the people who are still using them."
Due to declining revenues the government had revised and hiked the telegram charges in May 2011. After a gap of 60 years, telegram charges for inland services were raised from ₹3-4 per 50 words to ₹27 per 50 words. On 11 June, telecom and IT Minister Kapil Sibal announced to bid adieu to the service with a "warm farewell" and said "may be the last telegram sent should be a museum piece".
Full telegrams services are still offered in different parts of the world including Canada, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, Slovenia and Switzerland.