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No plan to destory courier services, govt to expand post offices

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, May 12 (UNI) The government today gave a categorical assurance in the Lok Sabha that it will open more post offices in the country to serve a larger population and would do nothing to ''destroy'' courier services.

''While the dominant role as regards postal services will continue to be played by the government post offices, the private courier services will be provided a level playing field so that they can also operate. The government has no intention of destroying the courier services,'' Minister of State for Communication and Information Technology Shakil Ahmad said in half-an-hour discussion in the House.

The discussion was raised by Mr Hansraj G Ahir(BJP) on the points arising out of the answer given by the Minister on March 10, 2006, to a Starred Question.

The Minister's remarks came in response to concerns raised by members that the government was closing down old post offices, some of which had been in existence for nearly a century, and had done well to serve the rural populace.

There were also concerns that the UPA government was bringing in legislation to close down smaller courier services, while allowing the big ones to flourish.

Mr Ahmad said a distinction needs to be drawn between Post Offices and Panchayat Sewa Surakasha Kendras(PSSK). Only the latter were sought to be closed and that too if they have not made any transaction for some years.

The Minister took on the NDA government for setting targets only for the first two years of the Tenth Plan, but not doing the same for the last three years. He said his government will correct the errors and omissions of the NDA government with a view to making the Postal services more effective.

Mr Ahmad said 70 per cent of the population continues to depend on Post Offices for sending communications. He said the number of post offices in the country was around 1,55,000.

He said it was necessary to bring changes in the Post Office Act as it was passed 108 years ago and the communication scene had undergone a sea change ever since. To bring the Act to date, it had become essential to amend the Act.

The Minister said India had done better than both China and the United States with regard to Post Offices both in terms of the area covered and the population that was being serviced.

Mr Ahmad said the government was not operating the post offices with a view to making profits, and said the loss last year to the Postal Department was to the tune of Rs 1,400 crore. The government will strive to bring this figure down to Rs 1,100 crore. The members, who participated in the discussion, included Mr Hansraj Gangaram Ahir (BJP), Mr Santosh Kumar Gangawar (BJP), Dr Satyanaryan Jatiya (Cong), Mr Rasa Singh Rawat (BJP), Mr C K Chandrappan(CPI-M) and Mr Maha Deo Rao Shiwankar (BJP).

UNI GS RL HT1945

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