With a backlog of 1.50 lakh-odd undelivered speed post mail during the lockdown, India Post wants that postal staff be allowed to use the local trains as moving letters and documents forms an important part of people’s lives.
The postal department has lost four people to the pandemic and nearly 40 employees and their family members have tested positive across Mumbai. The department officials are in touch with the office of the Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta to allow use of local trains by their staff members to travel to 160 of the 230 post offices, of which 89 are delivery post offices.
Suburban train services which resumed on the Central, Western and Harbour Lines from June 15 are not yet allowing bank and postal employees despite requests from various quarters.
“Currently, mails are being delivered as per essentials, medical equipment and medicines. I have instructed the use of vehicles by our staff. No postmen or postwomen are walking on the streets, can’t endanger their lives,” said Swati Pandey, Postmaster General, Mumbai.
Ms. Pandey said that during the lockdown period, 2,500 kg of medicines, personal protective equipment kits, COVID kits, and ventilators had been moved across the country by the postal department. “With unlock 1.0, one can seek delivery and send normal documents as well by speed post. We have now started doing that,” she informed.
As per plans to get more mail out, Ms. Pandey is also trying to requisition more vehicles from their central depot in Worli. “There are some other logistical issues also that we are trying to address. Drivers are not coming in because five of their colleagues tested positive. We want to get more mail out and it will be done using our vehicles,” she said.
Among the most crucial deliveries during the lockdown was a COVID testing machine, imported from the U.S., for delivery to a Pune hospital. Since the size of the package was unknown, a jeep was made available only to be changed to a van within 30 minutes, as a bigger vehicle was required.
Ms. Pandey also said that people could visit any of the 89 post offices and collect their letters or documents. “There is a lot of business mail that some organisations have refused to accept saying they are closed and staff were working from home. There are also several housing societies that are not allowing entry to our staff,” Ms. Pandey said.