A Anasooya, a Gramin Dak Sevak (GDS)mail delivery person of Kaniyarkode branch post office in Thrissur, was on the last leg of her delivery services for the day. It was around 5 pm when she reached Maniyankattu colony, a region that remains isolated from the suburbs due to its hilly terrain. The majority of the families here are of daily wage labourers. As a GDS, who works in the rural area, Anasooya is well acquainted with the families in the colony and was aware of their financial issues during the lockdown. She knew that recently Bindhu K and others in the colony had made a trip to the nearest bank, almost 10 km away to withdraw money, but had returned empty-handed.
“Anasooya asked for my Aadhaar card and cellphone. After a biometric identification, I was able to withdraw MNREGS wages,” says Bindhu. It was not long before people from nearby colonies too gathered around to withdraw money. Anasooya stayed back till 9 pm to make around 81 AePS transactions. The AePS initiated by the India Post Payment Banks last year, has become a blessing for many who are unable to step out of their homes to access banking services.
With life thrown out of gear for over 40 days, it came to each and every organisation, whether big or small, to do their bit and ease the pressure. Even as NGOs, and private and public offices extended help, ministries and government offices too stepped up to evolve with the times. The Department of Posts with its vast network was a natural choice to reach out to those affected. From opening accounts for the migrant population, making possible Aadhaar-linked payments to distribution food and medicines, the department is using its last-mile connectivity to ensure doorstep delivery of help.
Not just that, the road transport network of the Kerala postal department consisting of mail vans has been deployed to ensure smooth delivery of medicines. Consignments of essential items reach Coimbatore by various means and are then brought into the state using their mail vans. In fact, V Balakrishnan Nair, Senior Superintend of Pathanamthitta Post Offices Division, took it on himself to home-deliver a lifesaving drug by driving around 65 km and reaching a cancer patient in Seethathode village in the district.
“Every division has marketing executives who reach out to hospitals and pharmacies inquiring about their requirements. There has been an increasing demand for our assistance. We have been able to function across India, despite many state borders remaining sealed. The nodal office at Thiruvananthapuram has a war room coordinating all the activities,” says Sharda Sampath, Chief Post Master General, Kerala Circle.
Similarly, other states such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Chandigarh, Chennai, Odisha, West Bengal, Gujarat and Maharashtra are providing packaged meals, lifesaving drugs, ration, sanitisers, masks and more through the postal network.