ANDHRA PRADESH

Courier operators cut into Postal Dept. earnings

KARIMNAGAR JAN. 3. Even as the Postal Department is trying to recover from the shock given by the private courier operators, the use of Short Messaging Service (SMS) by the cellular phones has given a deathblow to the department's revenue.

The Postal Department, which otherwise fetches huge revenue through mailing of greeting cards during the New Year season, has received a severe blow with the decrease in the volume of greeting card mails by over 50 per cent during this New Year season in the Karimnagar district.

The statistics available reveal that during the 2002 New Year time, they had mailed an average of 7,500 to 8,000 greeting cards everyday, but this year they had mailed an average of only 3,000 greeting cards per day. Besides, several thousands of greetings cards sent to the near and dear ones from various places were lying idle in the post offices to say `Happy New Year' if they were delivered to their respective destinations, the sources said.

Thanks to the lethargic attitude of the Postal Department and the revolution of SMS, the former is paying heavily for it. This year, the department had received 4,570 greetings cards on December 31, 5,829 cards on January 1, 2003, 2,500 on January 2 and only 500 cards on January 3 for despatching.

On the other hand, the private courier operators were doing a roaring business during this season.

A courier company operator in the town said that they were despatching every day over 500 greeting cards to various destinations, compared to last year's figure of only 300. He said that the people were approaching the private couriers for their punctuality and good service to the customers.

The invasion of the BSNL cellular phone services in the district, which had announced free SMS facilities for the pre-paid card users and also SMS at a cheaper rates for the post-paid users, had ensured a decline in the mailing of greeting cards for the New Year. S. Mahendernath Yadav, who procured BSNL Cell One service, says that he used only the SMS facility during this New Year to greet all his friends and others. "Through SMS, we have the freedom to express our greetings in our own style and also get the response of happy moments immediately'', he noted.

According to Bhaskar, a businessman, "We are opting for the private courier service for delivering our greetings as they are prompt and timely.

There is no need for us to wait in queues for collecting stamps at post offices during the office hours." He also said that they could mail the cards anytime till late night at private couriers.

The Karimnagar Superintendent of Post Offices, M.V.H. Rayudu told `The Hindu' on Friday that invasion of cellular phone services, e-mail facility, Internet cafes, private courier operators have been affecting the postal mailing service. "Ours is an established network and one day we will definitely overcome the competition and show our presence felt'', he asserted.

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