MTNL to give up BWA spectrum, sell land to retain Navratna tag

Loss-making Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) has asked the government not to withdraw its Navratna status as it is working on a plan to start making profits by March 2013 that will include giving up wireless broadband airwaves and selling surplus land.

MTNL chairman and managing director A K Garg recently gave a presentation to the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) stating that the company has been making efforts to improve its financial situation and would begin to make profits by March.

"The CMD informed DPE that the company has prepared a strategy to make profits by way of surrendering (BWA) spectrum and selling its surplus land," an official said.

MTNL confirmed that it has requested the government that it should not be divested of Navratna status.

"We have sought time. The company should not be divested of the status. We have revival plans," said a senior MTNL official, but declined to discuss details.

The state-owned firm, which operates in Delhi and Mumbai, has been incurring losses since 2009-10, disqualifying it from being a Navratna unit. The status allows operational freedom, and is lost if the company reports losses for two consecutive years.

In the presentation to the DPE, the company said that it is planning to garner funds from sale of huge residential and technical surplus land available in Delhi and Mumbai.

Besides, MTNL has offered to surrender broadband wireless access (BWA) to the Department of Telecommunications and has sought refund for the same.

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