New Delhi April 24 : The Minister of State for Communications and HRD, Shri Sanjay Dhotre reviewed the initiatives taken by the Department of Posts during Covid-19 lockdown through a Video Conference. The Minister expressed satisfaction at the various measures undertaken and exhorted the Postal Department to exert itself to the utmost in the service of the Nation while observing all norms of social distancing.
Shri Sanjay Dhotre further said that many government departments may also be requiring to make use of the robust delivery system of Department of Posts and inter departmental coordination can offer new opportunity to Department of Posts. The Minister emphasized that the AePS should be widely popularized by the Postal Department and that Divisional heads of Postal Divisions may coordinate with District Collectors and State Administrations for doorstep delivery of cash.
The Minister was informed that most of the Post Offices across the country except those in containment zone are functional and delivering services. Special priority is being given to delivery of essential items including medicines, COVID-19 test kits, masks, sanitizers, PPEs and medical equipment including ventilators and defibrillators.
The Minister was informed that during the lockdown period till the 20th April 2020, around 1.8 Crore Post Office Saving Banks transactions with a value of Rs. 28000 Crores apart from IPPB transactions numbering 84 lakhs with a value of Rs. 2100 Crores have been carried out. Further, ATM transactions numbering 4.3 lakhs with a value of Rs. 135 Crores have been carried out across the country.
Aadhaar enabled Payment Systems (AEPS) of India Post Payment Bank, enables withdrawal of money from accounts standing in any scheduled banks at the doorstep. 15 lakh AEPS transactions valued at Rs. 300 Crores have been carried out during this period. Around 52 lakhs Direct Benefit Transfer payments valued at Rs. 480 Crores have been made during the lockdown period. The Aadhaar enabled Payment System has been of great help to old, divyangjan and pensioners, apart from people living in rural areas.
Shri Sanjay Dhotre was further apprised of special interstate and intra state mail arrangements made to deliver essential items to the customers. India Post has been using cargo flights, parcel trains and its own fleet of Red Mail Motor Vans and road transport networks to ensure timely delivery of essential items. All employees of the Department of Posts have been sensitized so that no one faces difficulty in sending and receiving medicines during lockdown. Several State Postal units like Gujarat, UP, Kerala, Maharashtra and West Bengal have entered into tie-ups with Indian Drug Manufacturers Association, Director General of Health Services, online pharmaceutical companies and suppliers of COVID-19 test kits.
The Minister was further informed about the Post Offices on wheels which are functioning in various parts of the country providing basic Postal services as per requirements. Food and dry rations are also being supplied to the less advantaged by the Postal Department through voluntary contributions and by partnering with NGOs and District administration to provide logistic services. Stitching of masks is being carried out by some Circles for distribution among Postal employees, Sanitation workers and general public.
The Minister was further apprised of the various individual initiatives taken up by some Circles. For instance, in Ratnagiri the Department is providing Mango farmers logistic services including pickup of mango produced from their farms and loading, transportation and unloading at destination points. In Karnataka the farmers have been provided facilities of booking mango boxes at Bangalore GPO for delivery within the city. All deliveries are being made within the time frame. On 17th April 2020, the Karnataka Circle of India Post launched ‘Anche Mitra’, a bilingual web application for the benefit of people who are unable to come out of their houses due to the lock down.
‘Dak Mitra’ App developed by IT Team of Haryana Circle has been integrated with the Portal of Haryana Government launched by the Chief Minister of Haryana on 21st of April. The purpose of this portal is crowd management in Banks and it gives option to the people to get their money from Post Offices through AEPS. 310 requests were already received in this App. through this portal.
The Minister asked various Circles/ State units to widely disseminate the helpline numbers among the public so that they can avail the services easily. He concluded on the note that everyone especially the staff on the field must take all precautions like use of masks , sanitizers and social distancing norms and that the senior officers should endeavour to take care of the foot soldiers and keep them motivated.