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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Government fails to use postal network

By Express News Service  |  26th November 2016 

ROURKELA: The Central Government seems to have miserably failed to utilise the potential of the deep-rooted vast postal network across the tribal-dominated Sundargarh district during demonetisation move.

The obvious failure of the Union Finance Ministry and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has heaped untold miseries on the cash-starved rural population in the first fortnight after ban on high value currencies. Belatedly, wisdom seems to be returning with the district’s postal offices given attention. But supply of Rs 2,000 notes continues to pose problems for post offices as it found few takers.

According to Nabard, 190 of the 260 panchayats in the district are considered as unbanked GPs. Although rural economy fully depends on cash transactions, there are 104 branches of scheduled commercial banks for about 14.7 lakh rural population while 131 banks are available for about 6.8 lakh urban and semi-urban population. The postal department’s role in remote rural pockets assumes significance after 16 rural branches of district cooperative banks were restricted from accepting Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes from November 14.

Postal department sources said the district has Core Banking Service (CBS)-enabled three head offices, 80 sub-post offices (SPOs) of which 67 are CBS-equipped. Similarly, 35 of 80 SPOs have presence in rural areas while 318 branch post offices (BPOs) without computerisation have good presence in remote pockets where banking services remain a distant dream. Yet, they were not initially supplied with adequate cash.

Sources said from November 10 to 25, the postal department in the district received around Rs 14.68 crore as almost all 318 BPOs remained virtually defunct due to cash crunch. However, from Friday, post offices are witnessing rush with Central Government in a fresh order allowing deposits of banned `500 and `1,000 notes in postal saving bank accounts.

Lathikata Sarpanch Bijay Xalxo informed that a week ago, he visited the Lathikata SPO and was denied exchange of Rs 500 notes.   

Senior Superintendent of Postal Department of Sundargarh Trilochan Ray said the situation is improving with receipt of adequate cash for transactions. A post office employee said though they have adequate Rs 2,000 notes, customers are not accepting it and now there has been an acute shortage of Rs 10, Rs 50 and Rs 100 denominations which are in high demand in rural areas.

Sundargarh Zilla Parishad (ZP) vice-president Saraswati Naik said farmers, rural contractors and MGNREGS workers are facing tremendous difficulties for non-availability of cash and are forced to compromise even on essential needs.
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