TAMBARAM: In many areas of the southern suburbs post offices are in a pathetic condition and in the absence of efficient services customers are being driven to private operators, say consumer activists.
Take, for instance, the post office at Chitlapakkam: it perfectly illustrates the poor conditions in which employees work as well as the inconvenience faced by customers. It has been functioning from a rented, dilapidated structure, with employees and customers hoping that the ceiling does not collapse on them.
Age has eaten away a part of the concrete in the ceiling, revealing rusty iron rods that threaten to break and fall any minute.
The building housing the post office, adjacent to the Chitlapakkam panchayat office, was inaugurated in 1969 in the presence of former Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran, who was the Alandur Member of the Legislative Assembly at that time. However, it was built to accommodate the post office, and even today the Department of Posts is paying a monthly rent of Rs.500 to the panchayat. The building is so small that not more than two people can stand in a queue at a time.
According to the Chitlapakkam Residents Coordination Committee, the recent rain had further damaged the building and the public have been put to a lot of inconvenience due to the lack of space. Further, the office records occupy a major portion of the building space.
The association members wonder why the land adjacent to the Chitlapakkam police station owned by the Department of Posts was not being used to house a new building with better amenities. The vacant space, extending to about five grounds, is today nothing more than a dense overgrowth of vegetation. A portion of the land has even been conveniently converted into a garbage dumping yard.
Officials in the Department of Posts said that they had no option but to leave the land vacant as their department was too cash strapped to construct even a small building for the post office. Enquiries revealed that several post offices in Tambaram functioned from rented buildings. In the recent rain, many of them got flooded, like the one at Zamin Pallavaram.
Pallavaram residents complained that they had to wade through water to make their transactions. Further, many papers and letter bags had become soaked at that time owing to the leaky roofs. Besides, customers who visit some of the post offices in this area are asked to return after a couple of hours to withdraw even sums as low as Rs.500.