Coronavirus outbreak: Even in crisis, the postman always delivers

Updated: 02 May, 2020 10:12 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

Postal staff have been ensuring elderly and disabled get pensions, depositors get their money, and hospitals much-needed kits

Postal staffer Mehraj Ausekar with blind and bed-bound Sushila Patil at her home
Postal staffer Mehraj Ausekar with blind and bed-bound Sushila Patil at her home

The lockdown seems to have brought out the good side of many. Staffers of the Indian postal department have gone out of their way to ensure that elderly get their pension, senior citizens can withdraw postal savings, the differently-abled get their stipend, and hospitals get their medicals kits. Some have even contributed to ensure food for the poor.

MID-DAY spoke to some of these heroes in Navi Mumbai Postal Region, which has 1,514 post offices in Thane, Palghar, Nashik, Malegaon, Navi Mumbai and Raigad districts.

"My dedicated team is working relentlessly to provide essential services to citizens. They are instructed to follow safety rules like using masks, sanitisers and physical distancing," said Shobha Madhale, postmaster general, Navi Mumbai Region.

Shobha Madhale, postmaster, Navi Mumbai
Shobha Madhale, postmaster general, Navi Mumbai 

Madhale added, “When we learnt that no public transport was available from March 23, we quickly came up with a plan. Directives were issued to postal officials at district levels, to ensure that adequate cash was made available at post offices, and a postal assistant to visit senior citizens, the differently-abled or pensioners at their homes and hand over cash,” she said.

Also directives were issued to ensure that all postal ATMs had cash daily and that delivery of essential items, medicines, kits and medical instruments were given priority.

Surprised by kindness

Kedare Jayram, 76, pensioner from Nashik

“My father retired as a jamadhar (senior peon) at the Niphad post office, Nashik. Ours is a joint family and it is his monthly pension of R12,000 that is a major source of income for the family even today,” said his elder son Manoj, who works with a gas agency at a monthly salary of R7,500. During the lockdown we were worried about our father going to the post office for his pension. “I was surprised by the kindness of the postal department who sent a postal assistant home with my pension,” said Kedare Jayram.

Kedare Jayram receives his pension from postal assistant Pradip Bhandwalkar
Kedare Jayram receives his pension from postal assistant Pradip Bhandwalkar

Hero

Pradip Bhandwalkar, 32, postal assistant, Niphad Post Office

“The last day of the month, pensioners usually get their money in their postal savings account. I visited the pensioners’ homes with a withdrawal slip taking all directed precautions. I took their signature on the slip, returned to the post office a few kilometres away and came back with their money. Would he continue this after lockdown? “I would love to. It gives me pleasure and satisfaction,” Bhandwalkar said.

Sushilatai thrilled

Sushila Patil, 90, Rayande Chari, Alibaug

She is blind and is bed-bound most of the time. Her sons live outside Alibaug and her daughter takes care of her. She was happy to get R8,300, which was sent in two money orders from the treasury department.

Mehraj Ausekar with Sushila Patil at her homeMehraj Ausekar with Sushila Patil at her home

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Mehraj Ausekar, 51, a postman at Poynad post office in Alibaug

He said, “I visited Sushila two days ago and saw that she is too weak and old. She gave her thumb impression on the receipt of the money order payment,” said Ausekar. “I will continue to visit Sushila with her money orders. I get satisfaction in doing something for senior citizens,” he added.

Boss hits the ground

Vitthal Hatankar, 96, pensioner, Brahmin Ali, Alibaug

“My father was the postmaster at Alibaug post office and retired in 1984. Since the lockdown I, too, was unable to collect his pension,” said Abhay Hatankar, 55, the son. “We were surprised and happy to see postmaster general, Anuradha Penkar herself coming home to hand over the pension,” said Hatankar senior.

Vitthal Hatankar with the postmaster of Alibaug post officeVitthal Hatankar with the postmaster of Alibaug post office

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Anuradha Penkar, 60, is due to retire in October

“We have around 68 senior citizens staying in and around Alibaug. We went to all their houses and gave them their pensions,” said Anuradha. “I also visited two of them staying 10 km away in Awas. They were all surprised and pleased,” she said.

Grateful to donors

Kesav Satpute, 32, pharmacy officer, Tembha Hospital, Bhayandar West

“I was on duty on April 17, when the staff of Bhayander post office visited the hospital with five cartons from Dr Pratik Jain of Delhi, who has donated 100 PPE kits for our staff,” Kesav said, adding, “We have about 100 COVID patients and apart from regular supply of PPE kits and medicines from Mira-Bhayander municipality, we are grateful to donors like Dr Jain for these PPE kits. Due to the lockdown the postal team themselves had got the parcel in their tempo and we were touched by their wonderful gesture.”

Staff from Bhayandar post office with the PPE kits that they delivered to Tembha hospital
Staff from Bhayandar post office with the PPE kits that they delivered to Tembha hospital

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Subhas Churi, 60, postal department staffer

“I usually do sorting and packing work at the Bhayander post office, but due to the lockdown I decided to deliver parcels received from Mumbai airport cargo at the earliest,” said Churi. When asked if he knew he was entering a COVID dedicated hospital, Churi said, “I am told that those who fear COVID are prone to get infected, and therefore I keep my fear at bay. I know I am serving those who are treating the most vulnerable patients.”

The numbers

Collection and delivery of payments by Navi Mumbai Region (1,514 posts offices) from March 23 to April 30

  • No. articles booked – 4,572
  • No. of articles delivered – 16,333
  • Savings Bank Payments – 1,18,893, Withdrawals – Rs 228.75 crore
  • Money Orders Paid: 2,064 Amount: Rs 42,67,913
  • Aadhar enabled payment system (AePS) – No. of transactions: 22,116 Amount paid – Rs 5,13,29,520/-
  • Personal contribution by postal staff in Navi Mumbai region: Rs 2,16,000

Info, courtesy: PMG, Navi Mumbai region

Postal staff cooks for needy

Nearly 1,180 packets were distributed by Palghar postal division to migrants and daily wagers and their children on April 4 and April 20, at Pelhar village, Vasai, Mahim Manor highway and other places in Palghar. The money came from contribution by staffers.

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First Published: 02 May, 2020 07:05 IST

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