A postal employee in Odisha’s Bhadrak district was suspended on Tuesday after he was found to have not delivered more than a thousand letters and packages for close to 10 years, reported the Hindustan Times. Jagannath Puhan, a postal delivery agent who was also the branch postmaster of Odhanga post office for more than a decade, was suspended after a preliminary inquiry held him “guilty of negligence and dereliction of duty”.
“I have suspended him after it was found that he committed gross dereliction of duty as well as breach of trust,” Sarbeswar Mishra, superintendent of Bhadrak postal circle, told the Hindustan Times. “Further disciplinary action, including dismissal, would be taken after inquiry.”
The undelivered letters, dating back to 2008, included official notices, admit cards for examinations, and letters of acceptance into jobs and universities, among others. The Odhanga branch was earlier run from a school building, where some children found the undelivered mail, reported The Indian Express. The post officer was later shifted to a new building. Puhan allegedly filled up sacks with the undelivered mail and left them outside the old building. Some residents allegedly even came across letters addressed to their Lok Sabha MP Arjun Charan Sethi of the Biju Janata Dal.
Some children saw ATM cards, bank passbooks, and PAN cards in the undelivered mail, after which they informed their parents, Odhanga panchayat’s sarpanch Kishore Padhiary told The Indian Express.
A postal employee at Bhadrak said the number of undelivered items is around 1,500, according to The Indian Express. “I personally noticed a letter from the Indian Navy dated 2011 for a local boy who had applied to them,” he said.
Mishra told the Hindustan Times that postal employees had managed to salvage more than 1,500 letters in two days. But the remaining documents had been damaged by water, humidity, and termites, and could not be delivered at all, he said.
Puhan admitted to throwing letters in an abandoned room in the old building, according to the Hindustan Times. “For several years, I could not walk properly and was not in a condition to deliver these letters,” he said.
Odisha’s Chief Post Master General Santosh Kumar Kamilla said Puhan was not a full-time employee and was categorised as an extra-departmental employee. “On questioning, he admitted he had been unwell,” Kamilla told The Indian Express.
Puhan joined the branch post office as a delivery agent in 1979. He was then given the added responsibility of branch postmaster in February 2004 and continued to hold both posts for 10 years, reported the Hindustan Times. From July 2016 to July 2017, he again held the twin charges till a regular postmaster was appointed.