Auction with a difference: Items from unclaimed postal parcels in Mumbai

Apr 22, 2018, 14:58 IST | PTI

According to figures obtained from the Returned Letter Office (RLO) at the GPO here, 1.57 lakh registered and speed post packets are lying unclaimed since the past five years, while 5,716 parcels are yet to be collected

Representational Image
Representational Image

An astounding number of 1.62 lakh undelivered and unclaimed consignment are awaiting collection by their rightful owners at the postal department and some of these parcels which contain items like cell phones, cameras, watches and stationeries are set to go under the hammer soon.

According to figures obtained from the Returned Letter Office (RLO) at the GPO here, 1.57 lakh registered and speed post packets are lying unclaimed since the past five years, while 5,716 parcels are yet to be collected. Besides, in these five years, 50.06 lakh ordinary letters, which could not be delivered for want of proper address, were disposed of at the post office as these did not have any monetary value.

"We last held an auction of some items on May 19, 2015 that fetched us Rs 54,059. Last year, we invited tender for auctioning these unclaimed items, but bidders did not turn up and we had to forfeit the deposit money," an official said, adding that a fresh round of tendering is underway for the auction. According to Rule 435 of the Postal and Telegraph Manual, if parcels or articles remain unclaimed, these should be auctioned. The postal department takes periodical action for tendering.

H C Agrawal, Chief Post Master General (CPMG) of Maharashtra and Goa circle, said before articles land at RLO, the staffers make all out efforts to deliver articles or parcels to the rightful owners.

"We must understand that these undelivered articles or parcels land at the RLO only when the addresses of both the sender and the recipient are found to be inconclusive by the postmen. Even after the letters and the parcels land at the RLO, our RLO employees, who are authorised to open these, try to find the addresses of either the sender or the recipient. When these are also not present inside the articles, then finally they go under the hammer," he said.

"Even now, if rightful owners approach us, we will hand over the articles to them, after proper verification," he said. "We provide a window period to the rightful claimants to come forward and claim the unattended articles. If the items still remain unclaimed, then these articles across all the post offices are dispatched here (GPO) and are auctioned under the prescribed rules," an official in-charge of the RLO told PTI.

The auction process begins with advertisements in local newspapers about all details of the articles. The RLO official said that before going for the auction, a committee is formed which appoints an auctioneer from outside. The auctioneer then fixes the quotation and auctioning process takes place in a transparent manner, he said.

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