The entire world is now passing through a phase of unprecedented pandemic caused by COVID-19. To restrict the spread of the virus, India has imposed a nationwide Lockdown. At a time when all forms of transport are shut down, Post Office in India has emerged once again as the major lifeline for dispatching ventilators, medicines, Personal Protective Equipments (PPE) and
kits for testing Coronavirus.
From the place of production / import, these health related materials are being taken by the Postal Department to different hubs of the country in collaboration with the cargo flight operators. In the Eastern India, Kolkata is one such hub from where traditional Red Mail Vans are taking these consignments to neighboring states viz. Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha and sometimes right up to Varanasi or Guwahati.
In normal times Mails and Parcels are transported from one place to other by passenger flights or by Mail Trains where flight timings are not convenient. The traditional red parcel vans are normally used only for transportation of Mails and Parcels between the City Sorting Hub and the local Post Offices. But in the absence of normal transportation network, these Mail Vans are being used for transportation of medicines and health related equipments from one State to other.
In the hours of lockdown, Post office has taken extra effort to ensure that there is no shortage of cash in any of its branches or in ATMs. In first four weeks of the national lockdown, in West Bengal / Sikkim / Andaman & Nicobar Islands, more than 16 lakh transactions took place in Post Offices Savings schemes, worth of Rs. 3,400 crores.
While India Post is taking every effort to encourage the customers to get initiated in digital transaction, many of the young generation customers particularly in rural areas are finding Aadhaar-enabled Payment Service (AePS) of India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) to be extremely useful. The customers residing in rural areas who are unable to travel to their Bank branches, located in distant areas, are benefited by AePS when they visit neighborhood Post Office and collect cash through biometric authentication and the amount is deducted from his Bank Account. The service is provided free of cost and one is not required to have even an account either at Post Office or at IPPB. Only thing that is required to avail this service is to have one’s Bank account linked with the Aadhaar.
West Bengal Postal Circle also made special arrangements to deliver cash from the account of the Pensioners who are 80+ by age or infirm or unwell.
All these things could not happen during the period of Lockdown without the support of thousands of Postal employees and Gramin Dak Sevaks of the Circle. - Today on the day of my superannuation from the Service, I feel proud for my association with nearly half a million employees of India Post, who by their tireless efforts made the Lockdown bearable for 1.3 billion Indians.
April 30, 2020
Chief Postmaster General
West Bengal, Sikkim, Andaman & Nicobar Islands