KARNATAKA

Post offices to be more customer friendly

BANGALORE Oct. 13. Your neighbourhood post office will get you "prasadam", change its timings to suit yours, and even be a foreign currency exchange centre.

All that, says K.B.H. Nayar, Chief Postmaster-General (Karnataka Circle), is to make post offices more customer friendly. So, post offices on Brigade Road and Museum Road here now close at 8 p.m. and not 6 p.m., "as the crowd there is heavy in the evenings", Dr. Nayar told presspersons here on Monday. Post offices at Rajajinagar and Vijayanagar here open at 9 a.m., not 10 a.m., and on Saturdays, they would be open all day.

Dr. Nayar said customers could register grievances online or check customer charters (put up in English at main post offices and in Kannada at branch post offices) to see how much time each service required, and who they could contact where in case of complaints. People could also reserve seats in KSRTC buses at post offices in Mangalore and Mysore, he said.

As part of their popular "retailing" function, they sold students application forms of colleges, universities, the Union and State public service commissions, and distributed "temple prasadams".

The Karnataka Postal Circle had helped the Kerala Circle sell "prasadam" packets from Sabarimala and Kadambuzha temples.

For this, people sent Money Orders to the temple concerned and the Postal Department then delivered the "prasadam". Dr. Nayar said the department was in talks with other temples on this.

The department had similarly parcelled "Onam clothes" for outstation Malayalis, he said. Besides, India Post distributed ICICI Prudential Life Insurance schemes, he added.

In a tie-up with the U.S.-based Western Union Money Transfer, post offices wired money from Non-Resident Indians. In Karnataka, 292 post offices (72 in Bangalore) offered this service and in 2002-03, the total amount sent was Rs. 18 crore.

Up to August this year, Rs. 11.5 crore had been wired. To popularise this, a campaign would be undertaken in schools and colleges to target foreign students and children of NRIs. But to exchange foreign currency, they needed the clearance of the Reserve Bank of India.

ATMs: The department was also "considering" putting up ATMs through a tie-up with a debit card maker, Dr. Nayar said. He said the proposal to introduce ATM debit card recharge facility at selected post offices, if implemented, would go a long way in helping the cardholders.

India Post would soon launch ePost, an equivalent of "e-mail", which would scan and then fax letters (singly or in copies) between post offices. A study in Gujarat showed that schools and colleges used ePost to conveniently contact hundreds of students at the same time, Dr. Nayar said.

Philately shows: There will be philately exhibitions in Hubli (October 29 and 30); Mysore (October 31 to November 2), and a State-level one (December 26 to 29) in Dharwad. A national stamp design competition for schoolchildren below the age of 17 would be held on November 14.

For details on these, visit www.indiapost.org.

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