Thursday, 26 March 2020
NFPE Odisha State CoC writes to Hon'ble Ministers and Members of Parliament with request to appraise the Hon'ble Prime Minister of India for complete closure of Post Offices to contain spread of COVID-19
As you have noticed, we, on behalf of NFPE, Odisha State CoC have already written to the Hon'ble Chief Minister of Odisha requesting him to appraise the Hon'ble Prime Minister of India for complete closure of Post Offices to contain spread of COVID-19. We are still awaiting a response for Chief Minister's Office.
Further, witnessing issuance frequent orders from the Directorate and Circle office in the recent past with arbitrary instructions to the grass root level which will help to spread the corona virus rather to contain the spread, we finally decided to appeal our Hon'ble Ministers to Govt. of India and Members of Parliament from Odisha to appraise the Hon'ble Prime Minister of India for complete closure of Post Offices to contain spread of COVID-19.
Accordingly, today we submitted our appeals through eMail to the following Ministers and MPs.
1. Sj. Dharmendra Pradhan, Hon'ble Cabinet Minister, Ministry of PNG & Ministry of Steel, Govt. of India
2. Sj. Pratap Chandra Sarangi, Hon'ble Minister, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Govt. of India
3. Sj. Bhartruhari Mahatab, Hon'ble MP(Lok Sabha)
4. Sj. Pinaki Misra, Hon'ble MP(Lok Sabha)
5. Sj. Suresh Pujari, Hon'ble MP(Lok Sabha)
6. Smt. Aparajita Sarangi, Hon'ble MP(Lok Sabha)
7. Dr. Achyutananda Samanta, Hon'ble MP(Lok Sabha)
8. Dr. Sasmit Patra, Hon'ble MP(Rajya Sabha)
A copy of the proforma letter is reproduced below for information of our members.
All the letters are sent separately today through the eMail Ids of the respective dignitaries. We would like to request the Divisional Secretaries of Bhubaneswar, Cuttack City, Puri and Sambalpur to pursue the matter with the local MPs. Copy of the letter will be sent to their WhatsApp Number.
= B SAMAL =
NFPE, Odisha State CoC
No. NFPE – ODI / ........ / 2020
Dated at Bhubaneswar the 26th March, 2020
Sub:- Appeal to appraise the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India for complete lockdown of all Post and RMS Offices to contain spread of Novel Corona Virus.
With deep concern, we would like to humbly represent the following facts requesting to extend your immediate support to contain the spread of Novel Corona Virus in the national interest during this critical juncture.
While the growth rate of the affected cases is increasing day by day in India, it is a fact known to all that isolation and social distancing is the need of the hour to contain the spread of COVID-19 and that is being emphasized by both the Central and State Governments. The Central Govt. has taken it with every seriousness and announced complete lockdown of the entire nation for next 21 days from 24.03.2020 midnight.
But contrary to that, in the name of providing 'essential service', the Postal Department has ordered to open all the Head Post Offices, Delivery Post Offices, Branch Post Offices (146968 post offices in toto out of 155531) which are manned by nearly 5 lakh employees. In Odisha, out of 8172 post offices in toto all the 6976 Rural Branch Post Offices and all bigger offices like Mukhya Dak Ghar, Head Post Office, General Post Office etc numbering 220 are ordered to be kept open. While use of biometric devices has been dispensed with by Govt. of India, in a recent order issued by the Department on 25.03.2020, the Department has emphasized to ensure financial transactions in biometric mode and for booking and delivery of accountable articles.
Though the postal employees and workers are well aware of the instructions of the Administration and Police to take tough action on anyone found violating this and risking their lives, their family members and people of the State/Nation, they have no other alternative but to come to office even during the above lockdown period. It is needless to intimate that as many as 25000 postal employees working in 8172 post offices across the state of Odisha do interact with hundreds of customers daily in each post office at the counters and handle lakhs of mails coming from various sources including foreign mails both in Post and RMS Offices in a hazardous condition and now in the present scenario they are quite vulnerable to the Novel Corona Virus. This is the condition of 5 lakh postal employees and workers working in 1.55 lakh post offices across the country interacting with lakhs of customers and handling crores of domestic, national and international mails with dust and unknown viruses.
Moreover, at this critical juncture when there is absence of any transport facility including Railways / Airways / State and Private Transports ceasing the transmission of mails completely, booking of article is meaningless. When ATM is provided with cash in every nook and corner and even in Post Offices and when the ATM Cards issued both the banks and post offices can be used interchangeably in post offices and banks, there is no need to open any Post Office in the name of essentiality in service for effecting cash withdrawals.
In addition, the preventive materials are not available in the local market on one hand and no post office has yet been supplied with such materials on the other as guided by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, UNICEF, WHO and several orders issued by Govt. of India through DoPT. The departmental orders to arrange for Curfew Pass, transportation facility to bring the officials to office are just in pen and paper since impracticable. We seriously fail to sanitize the Post Offices and thermal scanning of both the customers and staff members. The employees are working without mask, gloves, etc and thus quite vulnerable to spread the deadly virus which directly contradicts the appeal of the Hon’ble Prime Minister for maintaining social distancing and to stay at home.
As a result, these offices, if not locked down may become the maternity home for COVID-19 and the sincere efforts taken to contain the spread of COVID-19 both by the Govt. of Odisha and Central Govt. may be futile.
Under the circumstances, we would like to sincerely appeal you to kindly appraise the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India for complete lockdown of Post and RMS offices till restoration of normalcy or otherwise to contain the spread of COVID-19.
In spite of all these issues, even if the Central Govt. is interested to open the post offices to provide minimum essential services to the members of public, we should be very clear that the employees have never ever hesitated to provide service to the nation. They have a glorious history of rendering excellent and effective services to the nation for last 166 years with the sole motto “Dak Sewa Jan Sewa”. Undoubtedly, we have served this land of heterogeneous racial, lingual, religious and social culture upholding its rich cultural heritage through religious pluralism with Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Budhists, Jains etc. We not only just distributes letters, but share their sorrows and happiness in more than 19500 mother tongues inclusive of 22 scheduled languages and protect the national unity, social cohesion, secular and federal structure and democratic ethos of the country. According to Lord Dalhousie, the father of India Post “It makes the Post Office what under any other system it never can be the unrestricted means of diffusing knowledge, extending commerce and promoting in every way the social and intellectual improvement of the people”
But now the situation is different and the Post Office and the postal employees should not contribute in any manner to spread this deadly virus. History may not excuse us, if the post office turns into a breeding house of COVID-19.
If the Hon’ble Prime Minister thinks that postal services are barely essential and inevitable during this lockdown period, then it is requested to kindly appraise him to consider the following aspects for the welfare of these 5 lakh postal employees and their family members who are serving the nation like other essential service department.
i. Only the General Post Offices, Head Post Offices and Mukhya Dak Ghars should function in skeletal mode with minimum required staff just to provide Savings Bank withdrawals which is the basis need of the people now during this lockdown period. The Account holders of other Post Offices can also withdraw up to Rs.25000/- from these offices due to core banking facilities. So there will be no inconvenience to the members of public in availing the minimum required service from the post office.
ii. The works of all other post offices except the above three categories should be suspended outright.
iii. There should be no booking, transmission, clearance of letter box and delivery of mails in any manner.
iv. Arrangements should be made by the local municipal authorities for regular sanitization of the post offices ordered to be opened.
v. Postal administration should supply the necessary preventive materials (soap, sanitizer, hand-wash, mask, gloves, apron etc) to all post offices to be kept opened and to all officials brought on duty without any plea. Since these materials are not available in the local market, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India should supply centrally to the post offices through postal Directorate. No official under any circumstances should be allowed to work without mask, gloves etc.
vi. Postal administration should provide Curfew Pass and arrange transportation facility for the officials to come / go from / to home without any plea.
vii. The life of each postal employee who is ordered to work during the lockdown period should be insured for Rs.50 lakh by the Central Govt.
viii. Since the job of the employees brought on duty is fraught with risk, they should be compensated with an incentive at least of Rs.1000/- per day during the lockdown period.
Expecting your kind response and early action Sir.
With profound regards.