BANGALORE: The postman, an integral part of urban life, is having to keep pace with Bangalore's vertical growth. Their daily grind has changed from miles to go, to climbing up and down apartment blocks to deliver the day's cargo. While a few may term it an occupational hazard, the postman's humble requests for mailboxes on the ground floor have gone unheard.
Anticipating such a situation in 1989, the postal department had issued a circular saying an appeal be made to residents of multi-storeyed buildings to install letter boxes for each flat on the ground floor. Thousands of high-rises have come up in the city, but not all have lifts, and aged postmen are forced to sweat it out, sometimes to deliver a single envelope.
A copy of the circular is in possession of The Times of India. However, a senior postal official said a similar order was issued in 2001 again but nothing has changed. "It's only optional and the department has a mandate of door delivery. Speed post and money orders have to be door-delivered, only ordinary post can be dropped off in mailboxes."
A senior postman explained how difficult work can be at times. "In apartments with security personnel, we don't need to enter, and leave all envelopes with them. But in some apartments, there is no security. We end up climbing stairs and it's risky because we carry money orders and cheques. If we are attacked, there is no safety. Some of us have gone through bitter experiences," he said.
Even if lifts are available, postmen prefer taking the stairs. They reason: "Lifts can be scary as you never know when we might get stuck. What if the person standing next to us snatches the envelopes and runs away?"
"The public demands door delivery. People have no time to collect their own mail. People should set up mailboxes on the ground floor at least," says S S Manjunath, state secretary for Group C Employees Union.
R Seethalakshmi, state secretary for Union of Postmen and Group D Employees, says at least 30% postmen are aged over 50, and 50% are in the 40-50 age group. "Besides, we are managing with just 55% staff. Recruitment is on," she added.
Postmen also complain that people do not come forward to receive posts which contain notices from banks and courts. "If they anticipate such notices, residents do not even open the door. Every day, each postman deals with five or six such notices. We intimate the neighbours, but not many collect their mail from us. When the final notice arrives from the bank or court, the postal service is blamed," Seethalakshmi said.
Times of India, Jan 25, 2011.