BENGALURU:Nearly 700 beneficiaries of various social welfare schemes of the state government are served by a single room postal branch at Dommasandra. However, out of the `600 provided to senior citizens or the `500 given to widows, an unofficial deduction of `30 is made by the staff here every month.
No one dares question the local postman or the postmaster despite the practice, which has been going on for years here. A group of senior citizens in Janatha Colony told CE, “We are worried that they would not give us any money at all if we question them, and so we quietly take whatever they give us.”
Most senior citizens in the area are covered under the state’s Sandhya Suraksha Pension Scheme, under which `600 is provided for anyone above 65 years. While top postal officials insist that no one has the authorisation to deduct even a single rupee from a money order, a senior official conceded that 17 postmen and Grahak Dak Sevaks within the Channapatna postal region, under which Dommasandra too falls, have been suspended for similar malpractices within the last two years and disciplinary proceedings are on.
What is shocking is that the postal branch at Dommasandra has institutionalised this malpractice inside their office, as the postman does not go to anyone's doorsteps to deliver their pension.
Rajathiammal, a beneficiary of the old age pension scheme explains, “In case the pension is provided to us once every two months, `60 is deducted, including the previous month's commission. So we only get `1,140.” Her 80-year-old husband struggles to walk to the post office, located a kilometre away, to collect his pension.
CE got hold of many MO receipts, in which the deduction made is missing. Dommasandra postmaster claims no such wrongdoing takes place at his office. Post Master General, Bengaluru Region, Colonel Aravind Varma, said that stringent action would be taken against those involved after probing it. “I will go to the spot at the earliest and ensure immediate suspension and disciplinary action against such individuals. They have violated the conduct rules of the postal department,” he said.
Asked if the practice had any official sanction, assistant superintendent at Channapatna post office,
Srinivas, totally ruled it out. "It began as a goodwill gesture decades ago. The old age pension used to be `75, and the beneficiaries used to give `5 as a tip to the postmen. But it looks like the staff have themselves decided to take a sum when pensions increased,” he said.