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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Send your last 'taars' by July 15

HYDERABAD: For those who have never sent or received a telegram and planned to post one later, the time is running out fast. The curtains will come down on the 160-year-old telegraph services, with the BharatSancharNigam Limited (BSNL) announcing its closure a few weeks ago. The last day to send out telegrams (taars) is July 15.

The fall in revenue from the telegraph servicesover the years has eventually led to its absolute shutdown. "Like in other cities, in Hyderabad too the usage of the telegraph has declined drastically over the past few years. The service was being used quite frequently even till a decade ago," said M Seshachalam, additional general manager of telegraph services at BSNL, AP Circle. "Lately, it was being observed that telegrams were being sent mostly for legal purposes and for invitations for social events such as weddings," he added.

After being under the umbrella of the postal services since the 1850s, telegraph services were merged with the telecommunication department around two decades ago and some officials believe that is when telegram started losing to new-age technology. A telegram message is charged by the number of words it contains which is fixed at Rs 27 for every 50 words.

Once considered the most popular mode of long distance communication, the telegram and the telegraph machine will soon become historical artifacts to be preserved for future generations to see as curios. "The archival value of the telegram service will definitely increase now. It was one of the first means of communication and will have a special place in the conservation of India's history," said eminent historian Narendra Luther.

However, the youngsters in the city are largely of the view that phasing out of the telegraph was a natural step. "It is an obsolete means of communication. With mobile phones and the internet, there is no use of the telegraph," said 25-year-old finance professional Neha Paul.

But some fondly reminisce of the days before the mobile phone and the World Wide Web, when the taar was one of the few modes of communication available. "The telegram is not as fast as today's means of communication but no one can deny the feeling of warmth you get when receiving a telegram holding good news," said KLK Shastry, 79, a retired postmaster.

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