In Sunderbans, postmasters are gods

KOLKATA, 28 JUNE: Several residents of Kalitala, North 24-Parganas, have alleged that the postmaster of the Kalitala post office has been taking bribe to disburse money meant for Aila victims. He has also been accused of withholding NREGA wages.
The Kalitala post master, Mr Ramen Mandol, allegedly charges Rs 200 to pay the relief of Rs 10,000 to the Aila victims and anything between Rs 20 to Rs 50 to help issue job cards and pay the pending wages for the work done under NREGA in the area. Similar allegations have come up against Mr Naru Biswas, postmaster of Parghumti.
“The postmaster have been paying Rs 2,000 to Rs 7,000 to whoever he wants. Some people who don’t even live in the area but possessed land have received the money. But those whose houses were damaged are yet to get the payment,” said a resident of Kalitala. He said that the postmaster said that the pradhan of the Kalitala gram panchayat has given him a list and he has been giving the money to the people whose names feature on the list. Many people living in the same house have got as much as Rs 30,000 while other victims have got nothing, he said.
However, the pradhan of the Kalitala gram panchayat, Mrs Deepti Mondol, said that she has not given any list to the postmaster. She also said that payment of Aila relief and NREGA wages is not pending in the area.
The Basirhat post office disburses the funds under NREGA and Aila relief to the Hatgatcha post office that provides money to both the Kalitala and Parghumti post offices.
The Hatgatcha post master, Mr Aditya Das, said: “Payment of a lot of money is pending. We have been asking the Basirhat post office to send us money. We have also heard of the allegations that the Kalitala postmaster and Parghumti postmasters take bribe but we don’t have any proof.”
The Kalitala postmaster, Mr Ramen Mandal, said that he is being victimised and that he has not taken any bribe. Mr Gopal Mondol, a member of the Kalitala gram panchayat and a Trinamul Congress leader, said that this is being done by a section of people who belong to the Opposition party to malign Mr Ramen Mondol and the gram panchayat’s image.
“Demonstrations are being held and a deputation is being prepared by those people just to destabilise us. Also, a postmaster has signatory authority to give Rs 5000 only at a time. How can he pay Rs 10,000, said Mr Gopal Mondol.
The Basirhat SDO, Ms Anamika Majumdar, said she has not heard of any such thing.

Soma Basu

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