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Thursday, December 26, 2013

First SHG-run Post Office Goes Back in Dept Hands

Four years ago, a women’s self help group (SHG) named after poet Bharathi, in the remote village of Salukkai in Tiruvannamalai district created history by becoming the first and the only SHG to run a post office in the 150-year-old existence of the postal department in the country. But today, the SHG, which had put their heart and soul into keep the post office alive, has no role in its functioning, as the department took it over an year ago.
The sudden demise of the postmaster in the village around 2008-end brought R Geetha, R Lakhsmi and P Prema to the limelight. “The senior officials of the department had explored the possibility of running the post office by roping in the members of the Bharathi SHG. The officials entered into an agreement with R Geetha, a member of the group, during the third week of January, 2009,” said an official in the department. They handed over the entire operations of the post office to the three-member team, said a source in the department. The trio carried out the daily activities from dispatching incoming mails, collecting mails, delivering money orders and disbursing financial aid to the beneficiaries of social security schemes in Kosappattu, Uzhappakkam, Karam, Thazhampallam and Salukkai villages, located within a radius of 10 km.
The women worked from 10 am to 3 pm and travelled for nearly 20 km per day. However, they were paid only `600 as monthly incentive. Though the postal department promised to increase their incentive from `600 to `1,000 within a year, the promise remained unfulfilled.
The 300-odd beneficiaries of the social security scheme had supported the three women to continue their work at the post office. Each beneficiary in the five villages volunteered and gave `15 to `30 from their monthly assistance to support the women financially till they continued their work at the post office.

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