‘We had no way of knowing what was going on.’ Picture: iStock
‘We had no way of knowing what was going on.’ Picture: iStock

Postie fails to deliver 6000 letters

AN INDIAN postman sacked for failing to deliver thousands of letters to his local community over more than a decade said he was "not in a condition" to do so.

Jagannath Puhan was suspended as the branch postmaster at the Odhanga post office in the eastern state of Odisha, formerly Orissa, on the Bay of Bengal, this week after an inquiry found him "guilty of negligence and dereliction of duty".

The undelivered mail was discovered by a group of schoolchildren piled up in an abandoned school building that had been used as the post office branch until a few days ago.

"We have managed to salvage over 1500 letters in two days," postal superintendent Sarbeswar Mishra told The Hindustan Times. "But more than half of 6000 letters that Puhan did not deliver have either turned soggy or eaten by termites and cannot be delivered at all."

Mr Puhan, who joined the post office in 1979 and took on the additional duty of postmaster in 2004 when his predecessor retired, had "committed gross dereliction of duty as well as breach of trust", the official said.

He was tasked with delivering mail on his bicycle in a 3km radius around the post office for most of that time. Mr Mishra said he had been clever in choosing which mail not to deliver.

"While he delivered the registered letters, money orders, speed posts and (government ID) cards, for which record has to be maintained, he seems to have chucked ordinary letters as no such records are maintained," he said. "Since there were no official complaints, we had no way of knowing what was going on."

According to The Indian Express, the undelivered mail included official notices, applications for public service entrance examinations, job and university acceptance letters, and even letters addressed to the local MP.

"I personally noticed a letter from the Indian Navy dated 2011 for a local boy who had applied to them," one post office employee said.

Mr Puhan admitted to dumping several letters in an abandoned room in the school building, but blamed health problems. "For several years I could not walk properly and was not in a condition to deliver these letters," he told The Hindustan Times.

In 2013, an Australia Post mailman pleaded guilty to theft after being discovered with nearly 10,000 undelivered letters in his bedroom.

Mark Baguio admitted he had been "too lazy" to deliver the mail. He was caught after a mail delivery bag containing 755 letters was found dumped in a rubbish bin outside his Melbourne flat.