New Delhi: The Postal Department during this time of Covid-19 crisis, has risen to the occasion in helping people of the country through its vast network of post offices across the country. Minister of Communications, Law & Justice and Electronics & IT, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad held a video conferencing with each State whereby Chief Post Master Generals and Chief General Managers were instructed to keep their postal network geared and active to help the needy people throughout the country. India Post continues to be a deliverer of hope and essential items to millions of people in far flung areas like a true Corona Warrior.
Food & Dry Ration Distribution
In this Video Conference, Sh. Ravi Shankar Prasad issued instructions to specially focus on helping the downtrodden and needy people in urgent need of food items. The employees of DoP have pooled their savings to distribute food, dry rations and even masks to the needy in slums, migrant labourers and daily wage earners. In last few days, around 1 lakh food / dry ration packets have been distributed. In U.P. alone, more than 50,000 food/dry ration packets have been distributed amongst migrant labourers, needy people and construction labourers in Noida, Ghaziabad, Lucknow, Prayagraj and Faizabad. Similarly, in Bihar, around 16,000 food packets and 11500 packets of soaps, masks, sanitizers and gloves have been distributed voluntarily. In Telengana for instance, during the lockdown period, around 18000 meals were transported by postal mail vans while postal employees mobilised and distributed food and dry rations to around 1750 families in Hyderabad city. Similarly, in Nagpur too, food packets and dry rations were provided to around 1500 migrant labourers by postal staff. Punjab Postal Circle started “Food on Wheels” for construction workers, hawkers, rickshaw pullers, attendants of patients of PGI and migrant labourers stuck in various parts of Chandigarh.
In co-ordination with Food and Supply Department, Chandigarh postal officials carry food parcels in Department Mail Motor Van and distribute them twice a day in different areas. Food is distributed to around 2,000 to 3,500 needy people twice every day through “Food on Wheels” observing due social distancing. The Red Postal Mail Motor is now a beacon of hope for these homeless, famished people and they eagerly await its arrival. In Mumbai, not only is the postal staff feeding migrant labourers and slumbers but is also providing masks and sanitizers in worst affected areas of Dharavi etc.
Facilitating Medicine Availability
During the lockdown, while routine medicines were available but specialized medicines for cancer, kidney treatment and other life threatening diseases which were usually procured through the relatives and children of the patients living in big cities were not available. Lots of suggestions were given to Minister of Communications through Twitter and other mediums. Accordingly, Minister has issued directions to Department of Posts to utilize speed post through post office and postmen as a last mile connectivity to deliver these lifesaving medicines. To highlight few examples, lifesaving drugs were delivered to Shri M.P. Joshi, father of Mr. Sushil Joshi who is an Indian Army veteran to Gauchar in remote part of Uttarakhand. Similarly, on request of MyLab, COVID testing kits consignment were picked up at 11 pm on 13th April 2020 by MMS, Pune and delivered in the morning of 14th April 2020 to Ankleshwar, Gujarat. Similarly, around 40 defibrillators were delivered from Chennai to Uttar Pradesh Medical Supplies Corporation Ltd., Lucknow within 36 hours. Ventilators have been delivered from Puducherry to Odisha and Gujarat apart from tones of medicines and equipment transported by Road Transport Networks from Kolkata to Ranchi and Siliguri to name a few.
Doorstep delivery of financial services
Postal network is also offering facilities for bank account opening and most importantly cash withdrawal at the doorstep of the poor people using Aadhar Enabled Payment System (AEPS). This has helped people in withdrawing Direct Benefit Transfer amounts sent to them under various pension schemes, MNREGA and recently announced relief measures under PM Garib Kalyan Package. This facility has been so well accepted by common people that on 13th April, Indian Postal Payment Bank has recorded all-time high transactions i.e. 1.09 lakhs valuing Rs.22.82 crores.
To cite few examples, account opening camp has been conducted at Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium, Shillong where all the migrant labourers who came from nearby villages and hills have been kept by the local administration. This was done by following all the necessary precautions such as masks, social distancing and hand sanitizing, etc. With the help of IPPBs account, these migrant labourers could be able to receive relief through Central and State schemes. Similarly, large scale doorstep pension payments have been made throughout country specially in remote parts of Jammu, Kashmir, Leh, Gujarat, Telengana, Karnataka, tribal areas of Jharkhand, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh etc. Widow, disabled and old aged pensioners have been specially benefited by these payments at their doorsteps.