India’s last postal printing press will soon shut down

India’s last postal printing press will soon shut down

  • The 32-year-old printing press, which incidentally is the last one standing, is primarily used to print postal banking forms for seven states.
  • Currently, the press that has 146 people on its payroll has no clarity on when it will shut shop.
  • The Chief Postmaster General Santosh Kamila, Odisha circle admits the press has been recording losses for a while now.

The latest casualty of the government’s endeavour to abandon its loss-making activities and pivot towards privatisation is the postal printing press in Bhubaneswar. The 32-year-old printing press, which incidentally is the last one standing, is primarily used to print postal banking forms for seven states - yes, the same post office bank your mother has her money ‘securely’ stowed away since it is a 100% government bank. Apart from that, they print public utility documents like election ballots, MGNREGA booklets and Ujjwala passbooks.

As expected, the employees are terribly disappointed and feel this move is unwarranted, especially since they believe private printers are out to cheat the government.

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Prabhu Mohapatra, one of the press employees, told the Indian Express that private parties deliver less than the ordered amount and profit on the sleaze by charging for the entire consignment. “They (private presses) price their rates below us because they are already cheating, but the government is hoodwinked into thinking they are more efficient and cost-effective,” he alleged.

Employees claimed that the press per se was not inefficient and instead made counter accusations of the ineptness of other government departments.

“Earlier, raw material for our press came through tender by Commerce Ministry’s Directorate General of Supplies and Disposal (DGS&D), which was changed to the Government e-Market online system in 2017. DGS&D was inefficient and procured paper for us with delays every year. Each year, our machines were idle for two months. Disregarding this, the government has categorised our office as inefficient and recommended closure,” Jyotirmaya Das, an employee at the press, told Indian Express.

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The Chief Postmaster General Santosh Kamila, Odisha circle, however, admits the press has been recording losses for a while now.

Currently, the press that has 146 people on its payroll has no clarity on when it will shut shop. They speculate, however, it will be soon as it has not received its yearly supply of paper and ink, which is usually comes in by April. Their current inventory will last them three to four weeks at most.

A letter from the Ministry of Communication sent on 9 May just states that the “Committee of Secretaries has recommended the closure”. And cites “rationalisation” and the lack of “modernisation” as reasons for the unit’s closure.
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