Sunday, 25 December 2011


Remember the fiasco over the 'Harmad Bahini' letter that Union home minister P Chidambaram had sent to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee around Christmas last year? The registered mail took a week to reach Writers' Buildings from South Block, causing a major embarrassment to India Post.
A year later, a slew of measures involving both man and machine are under way to prevent a repeat of the snail mail episode that left everyone foxed. Addressing the long-standing issue of manpower shortage that severely affected operations like mail delivery, 328 persons have recently been employed, ending years of recruitment freeze.
"We expect to employ more than 100 persons in the next year. There are some vacancies that remain due to lack of suitable candidate to fill up some quotas. But the acute manpower crunch will be a thing of the past soon," said B V Sudhakar, postmaster general (business development) of West Bengal circle.
The long-term freeze had led to major crunch in postmen, resulting in once-a-week delivery of mails in some post office areas in the city. This led to major problems with credit card and other bills reaching customers after payment date.
Another senior official said part of the problem was also due to the poor work culture in Bengal where people arrive late to work and leave for home early. To address this problem, an initiative is under way to mechanize as much of the system as possible.
"An automated mail processing centre is being set up near the airport to expedite postage delivery. The machine will be installed in next month and the centre should function full-throttle from April," said VK Gupta, PMG (mail management).
The imported Siemens machines - one for small letters and another for bigger packages - will be fitted with optical character reader capable of reading addresses and barcodes and sorting the mails to 280-odd bins, each meant for one delivery office. There are around 159 delivery post offices in Kolkata alone.
"The machines have an accuracy of 90% with printed addresses and 15-20% with handwritten ones. Those that are not recognized will move into a separate conveyer belt from where people can sort the mails through video monitors. The machines will be able to sort 8 lakh letters daily," Gupta said. To begin with, the system will be used to handle high value business mails.
In addition to this, work is underway on Tech Seva, a service that will enable faster delivery of registered mails, Speed Post parcels and money orders. Through this system, a postman will be able to send an SMS alert to the addressee when a mail arrives for delivery at the post office.
"We are working on the database and may take six to eight months. But once the system is in place, it will be of huge convenience to the addressee as they can either be present at home to collect the mail or get in touch with the post office to do so," explained Gupta.


On a pilot basis five post offices have been selected to sell the watches in Kolkata.

HMT has 70 models of wrist watches, which will be displayed in the selected post offices.

"Quality and warranty is responsibility of HMT. The cost of the watches ranges from Rs.325 to Rs.3000 a piece," said an official statement.

"A special discount of 10% is offered during off season period, only to post offices customers by HMT which would not be made available by any other distributor / retailer of HMT," said the statement.

During festival seasons or special offer periods the discounts allowed by HMT to all its distributors / retailers will also be made available to the post office for passing them to the customers.

Post office will pass on the total discount of the customer unlike others who pass a part of the discount allowed.