Next time you have a parcel to courier in central Kolkata, you can do so at an exclusive counter at the General Post Office (GPO) while lounging over coffee. And if the parcel you send is posted by noon and addressed within the jurisdiction of the GPO, it will be delivered the same day.
The GPO has become the first post office in the country where a café has been opened on the premises. “We had a brain-storming session last year in Delhi to boost the parcel business and this idea was put forward by us,” said Ms. J. Charukesi, Chief Post Master General, West Bengal Circle, at the launch in the first week of March, 2022.
Siuli the Parcel Café will be open from 10 AM to 7 PM and will be run by the in-house catering department, which used to run a small staff canteen at a corner of the hall. The rest of the hall served as a counter for philatelic ancillaries, like mugs, coasters, cushions and brass plates, all bearing prints of appropriate stamps. These items will continue to be on sale at the café, which has been tastefully decorated on a postal theme by an in-house team. Brightly coloured wooden furniture and sofas seat about 34 people across the 1,450 sq ft space, maintaining ample distancing.
This is the first time that packaging facility is being offered by India Post, so that customers booking parcels no longer have to depend on private players charging randomly on the pavement outside. “We can gift wrap, too,” said the man at the counter, housed in an adjoining 800 sqft room.
The same-day delivery service has been launched at six Post Offices — Esplanade, Park Street, Alipore, Burrabazar and Dum Dum, other than GPO. The announcement was made at the programme by the Post master of each. The clause is the booking has to be done by noon. Alipore, Burrabazar, GPO and Dum Dum, which are nodal delivery centres, can express deliver parcels in adjacent post office areas, too.
A mobile parcel booking van was also added on Tuesday to the fleet of four for a service launched in February. “You can now book your parcel and get it collected from your doorstep. The van will have a weighing machine and hand you a receipt on the spot,” said Niraj Kumar, Post Master General, Kolkata Region.
The Post offices are drawing up a database of regular parcel clients and fixing a route along which the van will ply. “Once the word spreads, we expect people to call us up if they have a parcel to be picked up,” said a postal employee.
“The parcel sector has been identified by our department as the driver of growth for the future in this age of e-commerce. So, we are coming up with initiatives to support it. We need to make our presence felt in the courier business and get the post office back in the lives of people, especially the youth,” said Kumar. The department is also open to holding cultural events at the café, he said.