Union Minister of State for Communications Manoj Sinha on Sunday said that as many as 650 branches of the India Post payments bank are likely to be operational across the country by next month.
He said that the work of system integration of the payments bank had been completed and processes mandated by the Reserve Bank of India would be completed within one week.
“It is likely that 650 branches of the India Post payments bank would start functioning from May,” he said at a press conference here.
The minister said that the launch of the postal department’s payments bank would enable more than 1.5 lakh post offices to become access points for people to avail banking services, adding that it would help the government’s plans of financial inclusion and direct transfer of benefits in remote areas.
India Post had received permission from the RBI to start a payments bank in January last year, following which it set up two branches, on a pilot basis, at Raipur and Ranchi.
He said that a new regional office of the postal department would be opened in Jabalpur in the state.
He said that India Post had been adopting new technology in a bid to provide services at a faster pace and, as part of it, postmen were being provided with smart phones and hand held devices.
“So far, 15,000 such devices have been distributed to postmen in the country. Soon 40,000 postal workers will have such devices. This would enable faster delivery of all kinds of services,” he said.
Admitting that India Post’s parcel services were lagging behind due to the presence of private players, he said that a Parcel Directorate had been formed in the postal department to give a boost to this segment.
He expressed hope that the postal department would soon be self-reliant as far as revenue was concerned.
Speaking about milestones achieved by his department in the past one year, Sinha said, “A total of 62,000 out of 1.29 lakh post offices were networked under the Digital Advancement of Rural Post Office for a New India (DARPAN) project. New technology enabled services are being offered in rural areas through hand held devices,” he said.
He said that over seven lakh passport applications had been processed through 187 passport seva kendras (PSK) operating out of post offices.
The minister, who holds independent charge of the ministry of communications, was in the city to address a India Post conference being attended by senior officials including Postal Services Board members, the Director General (Posts) and Secretary (Posts).
The conference is to review the department’s performance in the past year.