New Delhi: The 163-year old telegram service may have technically come to an end a week ago but for many who rushed to be a part of history by sending their last telegrams, the journey is not over yet.
Even after a week of booking their cherished telegrams, many – including those who used ‘Taar’ for the first time in their – are still awaiting confirmation that the messages have indeed been delivered to the rightful recipients.
“I booked eight telegrams on Sunday but none of them has reached. I rushed to book telegram, the service that I never used in my life, as it was turning in to history,” says Delhi-based businessman Sanjeev Yadav. “With so much delay in delivery, government has killed the meaning of telegram,” Yadav, who stood in the queue at Central Telegraph Office for around two hours, said.
The telegram, once the fastest mode of communication, lost its sheen with advent of telephone and later with widespread of mobile phones. Still, hundreds crammed into 75 telegram offices in the country to send souvenir messages before the service was shutdown after running for 162 years at a stretch. As a result, over 20,000 telegrams booked on last day of its service compared to daily run of 5,000.
Another individual, M S Seth expressed disappointment at not receiving telegrams till date which were booked for local addresses.
“I drove for 20 kilometres to book telegram, stood in the queue for around three hours and even in rain just because of emotions that this service will no longer exist. But after putting so much effort there has been no result. I just pray that my telegrams get delivered properly,” Seth said.
No comments were received from BSNL, which was in charge of telegram service operations. On 15 July, BSNL claimed to have despatched 12,568 out of 20,000 telegrams that were booked on July 14. On 16 July, a BSNL spokesperson said all booked telegrams have been despatched with the help of using company’s own staff and India Post.
Karuppiah, a 96-year old resident of Vadamalaipatti village near Trichy, received a telegram from his grandson Anand Sathiyaseelan after four days.
“This time I got telegram by post. It used to get delivered in around 2 hours even when I booked it from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) for my parents in this village. There were many telegram offices earlier but the number is now very less. The nearest telegram office to our village was closed , I think, around 5 to 6 years back,” Karuppiah said on phone.
Sathiyaseelan said his grandfather ran a business in Sri Lanka and had sent first telegram in 1934 to his parents.
First 30 words in telegram cost Rs 29 and Re 1 thereafter for every word – which is a lot more expensive than SMS or e-mail. BSNL decided to discontinue the services following huge gap between the average annual revenue of around Rs 75 lakh compared to cost of over Rs 100 crore.