Lockdown or not, the postal department will continue to deliver your mails, even in this digital age, when for most people in communication is seamless with the mobile phone, or internet-based apps WhatsApp and social media.
For Mohan Gowda, who along with 18 postmen in Bengaluru used to deliver 300 mails daily and process 4,500 money orders a month, the lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus has cut down his workload, with a little variety.
A week into the lockdown, he was staring at empty post boxes, with the road, rail and airline transport limiting the movement of mails and orders.
While most people would have expected the postal department also to shut down in the wake of the lockdown, the government notified the department also as essentials.
Gowda was called to work to process and deliver money orders and pension payments. But thankfully, with the low workload, he and his colleagues are able to work with limited staff on rotation, after ensuring all precautions.
PPE for doctors handed over to staff of North Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong in coordination with District administration.#weCare #weServe #weDeliver #Besafe #StayHomeSaveLives pic.twitter.com/Z2hKxs3dy7
— India Post (@IndiaPostOffice) April 16, 2020
“Not all 18 persons are working. We take turns and work with limited staff while others take off as the load is less,” Gowda says.
There are over 1.5 lakh post offices across the country employing 4.3 lakh people, with a third of them in rural areas.
Along with money orders, the postmen also deliver medicines and essentials.
Across the country, the India Post is leveraging its network to deliver essential items such as medicines, masks and personal protection equipment (PPE) during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
Also, the Karnataka Horticulture Department has tied up with India Post to deliver mangoes sourced from farmers. The department introduced a portal where people can order mangoes online which would be delivered by the postal staff.
But Gowda says not many people order online and that they get barely 4-5 orders occasionally.
People scared to come in contact
While he was happy delivering the essentials and mails to people wearing mask and riding his bicycle, Gowda was up for a shock.
Some residents refused to come in contact with him and refused to sign the receipts with the same pen that he gave upon delivery of goods.
“After delivering the money orders, we usually take the signature of the person receiving it. But when I offered the pen to sign, some refused and said they fear they may get infected by me if they touched the same pen,” Gowda says.
Medicines, food, money through #AEPS and other essential items along with heartfelt messages… @IndiaPostOffice is leaving no stone unturned to deliver the necessary things to you during #Lockdown2. Don't panic and let's thank these #CoronaWarriors. #StayHome pic.twitter.com/5GVg7yb1l0
— Sanjay Dhotre (@SanjayDhotreMP) April 15, 2020
“They suspect that I might be an easy victim to the pandemic as I roam around all day and hence do not want to come near me.”
He says while he understands their fear, sometimes it’s disturbing. The same people welcome him with a smile as soon as they get the money order. He says he takes precautionary measures and also uses masks when he’s at work.
When asked if his family is okay with him going out, Gowda says, “It’s my job and I cannot say no to it even if there are risks.”
In certain areas, door delivery of mails was replaced by window collection at the post office branches, after people refused to take parcels being delivered by postal staff, a Business Standard report said.
For Sumithra N, working at HAL post office, things aren’t the same. Staying 30 km away, she has no choice but to stay at home as there is no public transport and she struggles to find a mode of movement to her office.