Thursday, 8 March 2012


Dole cha Dolagovindam

Chape scha Madhusudanam

Rathe tu Bamanam drustwa

Punarjanma na bidyate

wishing d day of divine grace & glory.




Speed Post, money orders may get costlier

India’s department of posts has proposed to raise tariffs for most of its services, including Speed Post, money orders, postcards and inland letters, by 15-20% for the first time in 10 years to cover increased costs of printing and transportation.

File Photo
File Photo

The new tariffs are expected to be implemented by April and will generate additional revenue of Rs. 1,000 crore for the department, according to two department of posts officials, who declined to be named.
“The last time the rates were increased was in 2002. Since then, the cost of printing and transportation has gone up significantly; the tariffs need to be hiked significantly,” one of them said.
The proposal has been approved by the seven-member Postal Commission that decides on policies. The Postal Commission is headed by the secretary of the department of posts. The commission has approved the tariff increases and has forwarded the proposal to Sachin Pilot, junior minister in the ministry of communications and information technology, for approval.

The increase in tariff for Speed Post can be implemented once the minister approves it. Hikes in tariff for the most of the other services need a change in the Postal Act.
The postal department has been running at a loss for a number of years. Its deficit widened to Rs. 5,632.46 crore in the year ended 31 March 2010 from Rs.3,593.09 crore the previous year, Gurudas Kamat, a former minister of state for communications and information technology, had told Parliament in reply to a question.
The latest deficit numbers were not available.
The deficit had increased substantially because of an increase in salaries and pension because of the implementation of Sixth Pay Commission.
“The main reason (for the deficit) is that the rates of most of the postal services do not reflect the market price as they are subsidized to make them within the reach of common man and to the remotest area of the country,” Kamat had said.
In recent years, the postal department has started a number of services—including ePost, railway ticket vending and the sale of gold coins—to increase revenue and stay relevant in the age of email.
EPost is a hybrid mail service through which as many as 992,000 messages were sent until November, earning the department Rs. 81.07 lakh. Between January and October 2011, it earned Rs. 2.04 crore as commission by selling 1.37 million railway tickets through post offices, and Rs. 6.25 crore by selling 591.4kg of gold coins in 2011.

Postal ballot system needs improvement: experts

While electronic voting machines (EVMs) have replaced paper ballots in India, little has been done to change the old postal ballot system, which is at the centre of a raging controversy in Uttarakhand, experts and top officials today said.
"This is an old age system where we feel that a lot of improvement can be done. It can be done by bringing new software or electronic gadgets that will allow the armed personnel to cast their votes from the place of their posting," said Anil Jaggi, an IT expert here.Despite being a costly affair, the Election Commission has not taken steps to improve the postal ballot system for the armed forces, officials said. The cost of a postal ballot is roughly around Rs 100 per ballot that includes the postage which is to be paid by the state government.
"So far, politicians in our state have not shown any interest to improve the postal ballot system in the state," said a top official of the state election commission.
As a war of words escalated between BJP and Congress over the postal ballot issue in Uttarakhand, the election commission last month had put the onus on the army for the large number of undelivered postal ballots.
The ruling BJP, which banks on the support of army personnel, had asked the commission to clear the air on the controversy pertaining to the undelivered postal ballots.
This time, over 1.19 lakh people including one lakh army personnel are casting their votes through ballot papers and those which reach the counting centre till 8am of March 6 will be taken in account.
Experts said the postal ballots could play a crucial role in as many as 20 constituencies out of the total 70 in the hill state where assembly elections were held on January 30.
Since the time period between the polling and the counting is very long, the election commission is expecting the polling percentage of the postal ballots to be heavy.
Meanwhile, even as BJP general secretary Dharmendra Paradhan, who is incharge of the party affairs in the hill state, accused railways and postal department of not delivering the postal ballots, Congress today slammed the BJP for raking up the issue.
"BJP knows that it has already lost the race. So, it is enacting the drama to distract the people's attention from real issues," said Surendra Kumar, a state Congress spokesman.
In the past, Congress had alleged that postal ballots had marred the chances of their candidates including that of senior Congress leader Satpal Maharaj in the 2008 Pauri Lok Sabha by-election.