Villagers come from long distances to the only two post offices in a 25km distance, but often return home empty handed, because of cash shortages

For cash-strapped Mandya villagers ill-equipped post offices offer little relief
news Demonetisation Friday, November 18, 2016 - 15:41

Shubramalini had changed two buses to reach Keelara on Wednesday to withdraw money from her account at the post office. 

“I am from Gudidoddi and there is no post office there. I have to either go to Keelara or Besagarahalli. By the time I reached Keelara yesterday, it was 2pm and the postmaster told me that they are only accepting deposits as they did not have enough money for withdrawal. Hence I came here again today,” she laments.

Not just banks and ATMS, for the villages around Mandya post offices are few and far between too.
Also, unlike in cities where post offices offer currency exchange, the post offices that are there allow only deposits and withdrawals from account holders. Others must go to banks to receive fresh currency.

There are only two operating post offices within a 25km distance from Mandya. One is in Keelara and another in Besagarahalli with account holders aplenty. There is also one in Hodaghatta, but that office remains closed, with only the postbox outside operating for people to post letters.

Many people who have accounts in these post offices come from far off villages like Konasale, Chotanahalli, Maralagiri, Gudidoddi, Mudigere, Nilavagilu, N Kodalli, Marasinganahalli and Aneduddi.
The villagers willing to travel the distance are, however, in for disappointment. Many have been turned away due to a shortage of cash.

Chokkaiah is a farmer from Konasale. He has traveled thrice to Keelara to withdraw money from his account there but has still had no luck.

“On the first day (Monday), I reached Keelara at 4pm and the postmaster told me that they had no more money left. It happened again on Tuesday and Wednesday as I could not come in the morning. I have to look after my farm and also find time for this. It is such a hassle with the buses being infrequent. Today I came early and was finally able to withdraw money,” an angered Chokkaiah said.

Each of the two operational post offices are given only Rs 1 lakh for purposes of exchange. "When we do not have enough change to give people, how can we shell out money for exchange. Hence only account holders can withdraw money," said the postmaster at Besagarahalli.

If these are the woes of the residents, the staff at the post offices have their share as well. Besagarahalli’s post office has two employees. This is better than the one in Keelara, with just one employee – the postmaster. But not by much, so far as the difficulties of the staff is concerned.

Besagarahalli’s postmaster says that he has no choice but to miss his granddaughter's naming ceremony on November 27, thanks to the excess of work he faces.

"We handle operations of seven other post offices that are further away from Besagarahalli. There are only two of us in this office and we have to consolidate all the work on a daily basis and finally remit the money collected at the Head Post Office in Mandya. I carry Rs 13-15 lakh all the way every day since the demonetisation. By the time we are done, it is 10.30pm. We have no rest," he laments. 

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