By Deepak Dube
The ghost of the abolished Telegram shall continue to haunt the annals of the philatelic and communicational history of this country forever.On 19th September, I received 10 of the \’ last telegrams\’ sent to me from all across the country between the 12th and 14th of July. This is the \”second lot\” of receipts.Some telegrams sent to me on these dates were received earlier on , say, in the \”first lot\” , between the 25th and 31st of July.
When contacted for an explanation of the delay, my local District Telegraph Office (DTO),Korba, Chhattisgarh narrated the story which may interest aggrieved hobbyists like me who may still be waiting for their \’last telegrams\’.At the root of the problem is the abrupt closure of the WTMS, or the Web –based Telegram System, right on 15th July ( the very next day to the declared last day , i.e. 14th July ) after booking a last VVIP telegram that could be \’museumed\’ for history, even before ensuring that all the telegrams booked for the general public upto the declared last day had been conveyed to their destinations.Faced with this problematic situation , several Telegraph Offices (TOs) sent their booked telegrams outside the WTMS, directly to the addressees by ordinary post. This is how telegrams of the \”first lot\” were mostly sent and received.
However, several TOs left their booked messages to the closed WTMS, to be searched and received by the respective destination-TOs in good time and to be delivered to the addressees thereafter.This is how the telegrams of the \” second lot\” have been received , what if after a delay of over two months.Interestingly, one telegram –Ref.: WB 113, booked on 14.07.2013 at the Central(?) Telegraph Office,[CTO] Lucknow , — has been received by me in both the \’lots\’. It was, initially, received directly from Lucknow on 29th July(Fig.1). It was then received on 19th of September from the DTO,Korba , Chhattisgarh(Fig.2) This telegram amply illustrates the lack of planning on part of the BSNL with regard to the delivery of the telegrams booked on the \’ last days \’ that led the different TOs to resort to deliveries, variously, outside the WTMS or through it , or both through WTMS as well as outside it as is the case with the referred-to Lucknow -telegram.In all cases, however, the telegrams have been received in \’ Duplicate \’, as \’Message Resent \’. The WTMS would generate telegrams in the original only when messages were drawn from it within a given time-limit ( 24 hours, as reported by the DTO, Korba).Beyond this time-limit, the messages would be generated as \’ duplicate\’, as has been the case with all the telegrams received by me.
In most cases, however, BSNL has braced itself with safety with the system generated comment \’ delay intimated \’ , meaning thereby that the applicant had been intimated at the time of the booking of the telegram that there could be a delay in the delivery.Therefore, none can hold the BSNL technically responsible for the great mis-management of the whole affair.One thing is certain. Had the likes of those who were responsible to manage the event of the closure of the telegraphic service been at the political- helm in 1947, we would have had our Independence Day on or about 15th of October instead of August, i.e. two months later .