Dear Prime Minister,
I am 68 years old and blind from one eye. I have partial vision in the other eye. I suffer from asthma, vertigo, diabetes, acute shoulder pain and hernia. I live alone. On two occasions, I had fallen, broken my wrist, and admitted to hospital.
Recently, my ordeal with the General Post Office in Chennai has left me questioning if public services are, in fact, meant to serve us or whether they are filled with gangrene so much that there is no good anymore.
My complaint is about the coercion and harassment of senior citizens by the Postal Department and its lack of sensitivity to their concerns, particularly with people like me who cannot move out of our residences because of age and health related problems.
I retired as a professor in 2009 from a research institute where, unlike in other universities, the staff is not entitled to receive pension post retirement. I deposited a major part of the retirement dues I received as a fixed deposit (FD) in the General Post Office in Chennai. Since I do not receive pension, I have been subsisting on the interest of this FD. My FD is expected to mature on March 9. But, I needed the money for an urgent surgery and for my daughter’s wedding.
So, I approached the officials in the GPO for closure of my FD. I was appalled by their callousness. I was informed that I will not get my FD amount directly and immediately. I was instructed to open a post office saving bank (SB) account through which I should submit a withdrawal form, and in due course the money would be credited to my SB account.
But Where Are the Ramps? Lifts?
Okay, even if I agree to do this exercise, it is not easy for someone like me.
The post office I have to frequent is around 15 kilometres away from where I live. Even if I manage to go there, I cannot go up to the concerned section as the GPO has no lift. I find it extremely difficult to climb stairs.
Until now, the quarterly interest on my FD has been credited electronically to my SB account with the Indian Overseas Bank. Why can’t they make it easy during closure as well?
If I am not able to withdraw my FD in an emergency situation as I can do in a bank, without being physically present, how can the Postal Department claim to serve the people?
If this is the plight of senior citizens with multiple disabilities, where does the country’s public service stand?
Forcing me to open an SB account to get back my FD is nothing short of coercion and harassment.
When Services like LIC Can, Why Can’t the Post Office?
Asking me to open a post office savings bank account and withdraw the FD through that account is similar to a bank manager telling account holders that if they want to get their FDs back, they should open another account in another branch of the same bank.
Can anyone imagine a bigger scandal than this?
Nobody will open a post office savings bank account for fun as banks offer higher interest for FDs.
When agencies like the LIC settle accounts through cheques, it is bizarre that the Postal Department is using coercive tactics.
Post Office in the Grip of Gangrene
Clearly, the Postal Department wants to augment the number of savings bank accounts, whether they are dormant or active.
This is a dubious and hollow way of expanding post office saving schemes.
After pursuing the same for a while, one person from the GPO, Public Relations Inspector Kumar, was helping me by personally visiting me. On 18 January, I called Deputy Superintendent Saraswathy and Kumar about the urgency of getting my money back.
The same day I sent an email to the Chief Post Master. After that Kumar kept promising me that he would meet me, but even repeated calls didn’t make him hear my pleas.
As I did not get a reply to my 18 January email, I sent a reminder email on 22 January; and again on 25 and 29 January.
The Postal Department is prima facie anti-people and in the grip of gangrene.
Appeal to the PMO
After not finding any solution from the GPO, I took the matter up with the PMO cell through the website ‘WRITE TO THE PRIME MINISTER.’
I am still awaiting a response.
I urge the honourable Prime Minister to order a thorough investigation into the functioning of the Chennai GPO and let me have my FD amount credited to my SB account with the IOB or let me have it by cheque delivered to me at my residence.
With warm regards,
A concerned senior citizen waiting for his hard-earned savings.
(As told to @smitha.tarur)
The Quint contacted the Chief Post Master and he clarified that there is no provision to arrange payment on closure at the residence of the depositor. However, he has agreed to direct the Public Relations Inspector to take the regular forms to the customer’s residence, get his signature, and complete the transaction.
When The Quint checked at the Post Office, we found that there were lifts but there was no proper signage to direct customers and many senior citizens were seen using the stairs.
(Disclaimer: This is a Citizen Q piece by an anonymous independent writer and the views expressed above are the author’s own.The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same)
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