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Telegram services to shut down from July 15

With the dawn of the digital era, where e-mails and SMSes have taken over as the new modes of communication, the 160-year-old telegram service will be discontinued from July 15.


A telegram was in the past the fastest mode of communication in India. BSNL will shut down the service from July 15. Representation pic/AFP

According to a circular issued by Shameem Akhtar, senior General Manager (Telegraph Services) BSNL, the telegraph service is to be discontinued with effect from July 15, 2013. The circular sent to various telecom district and circle offices denotes that services will be shut from July 15 and that all BSNL telegraph offices will have to stop booking telegrams from July 15.

The telegram, which was once the only source of quick and urgent communication in the country, delivered many cheerful and gloomy news to people across India. From the birth of a child to the sudden demise of a relative — the telegram service has seen it all.

But over the years, with the advent of modern technology the service has been more or less forgotten by the masses. The BSNL circular has also directed the telecom offices to maintain the logs, service messages, delivery slips for duration of six months from the date of booking. However, any complaints, press reports and other messages from different consumer fora are to be kept for at least one year.

According to sources, the BSNL had asked the government to support the service as it was not commercially viable but the government in response said that the BSNL board should take a decision on it. “After consulting with the Department of Posts, we have taken the decision to close the service, as there are other better options available,” said a source from the Delhi BSNL office.

Surplus staff
The BSNL has instructed that the staff from the telegraph offices would be deployed to mobile services, landline and broadband services. The departments would take approximately three months to shift the staff to these relevant departments. Owing to falling revenues, in May 2011, after a period of nearly six decades, the government had revised the telegram charges. The telegram charges were hiked from Rs 3 per 50 words to Rs 27 per 50 words for inland services. Earlier this year, in April, BSNL had withdrawn the telegram services for overseas communication.

Did you know?
Telegrams receipts are accepted in courts as evidence in civil or criminal suits
The telegram was a handy mode of communication for jawans and armed forces for seeking leave, transfer or joining reports

1855
The year in which the first public telegram service commenced

Rs 1
The charge for sixteen words including the address in 1855

6 pm to 6 am
Charges were doubled for telegrams

1990
The year in which the telegram service was handed over to BSNL

Rs 27
The telegram charges were hiked in May 2011

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