Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday said state-owned BSNL is a strategic asset of the country and it was his mission to make it one of the top companies of India.
"....It ((BSNL) is a strategic asset of the country. Standing in Tamil Nadu, I need to recall when Chennai was suffering from huge floods... ultimately who came to the rescue.... BSNL. When there was a great earthquake in Nepal and when Indians were stranded there, who gave free service? BSNL," he said.
The Union Minister for Communication was speaking after inaugurating the cable laying work for submarine optical fibre link from Chennai to Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The total cost of the project is Rs 1,224 crore and it is being executed by BSNL.
Mr Prasad also said that during the (recent) cyclone in Odisha and floods in Kashmir, it was BSNL which came to the rescue and when there is a strategic need for the defence (sector), it is BSNL.
"BSNL is not a mobile company or telephone company simply set up. It is a part of a strategic asset of India," he added.
Mr Prasad also said it was his mission to make BSNL one of the top companies in Chennai.
"When in 2014, I was minister of communication, my priority was to bring BSNL to operating profit. I brought it. It is my mission to make BSNL one of the top companies of India. All of you have to work with me. I am very clear about it."
Stating that he had given a ''very robust'' VRS package, Mr Prasad said about 78,000 BSNL employees and 15,000 of MTNL had taken it.
"It is because it is the best ever package given to PSU employees," the minister said.
Mr Prasad said he expected BSNL to execute this project by May-June or make it before that to show to the world what it was capable of and that "it has finally risen from slumber."
The Minister also said that laying of optical fibre cable between the mainland (Chennai) and Andaman & Nicobar islands was a milestone in the history of India.
The project will play a significant role in achieving the objective of ''Digital India'' and ''BharatNet'' and for rolling out various e-governance projects of the Central government in the islands.
The Minister also said the Digital Commission had approved submarine fibre cable connectivity between Kochi and Lakshadweep Island.