Property aplenty, yet postal dept pays rent | india | Hindustan Times
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Property aplenty, yet postal dept pays rent

The department of Posts owns a huge amount property and has as many as 1,871 plots, measuring 3,82,24,902 square feet, lying vacant.

india Updated: Sep 17, 2007 03:01 IST
Srinand Jha

The department of Posts owns a huge amount property and has as many as 1,871 plots, measuring 3,82,24,902 square feet, lying vacant. Yet, three-fourth of the sub and head post offices in the country operate out of rented buildings. And the annual rent incurred on this count is estimated to be around Rs 45 crore.

Moreover, the department has spent Rs 2.26 crore in the past five years on disputes and court cases against encroachment on its land. A total of 187 plots have been encroached upon. And, the shadow of illegal occupation looms large over 403 other vacant plots in prime localities.

This state of affairs has been described in the 48th report of the Nikhil Kumar-headed parliamentary standing committee on Information Technology. It points out that 217 postal buildings, including staff quarters, are in a dilapidated condition, while 99 departmental buildings across the country have a substantial amount of vacant space lying idle. The report was laid before both Houses of Parliament on August 21.

In fact, the panel had earlier said some vacant space has been lying idle at Hamirpur in Uttar Pradesh since 1854. The department later rectified this, noting it was a vacant plot and not space.

Disinclined to share the department’s optimism that issues will be streamlined after a special purpose vehicle (SPV) is set up, the committee has criticised the department for its mismanagement of real estate and asked it to prepare a category-wise record of the land it owns. It has also asked the government to set up a nodal authority mandated with the management and oversight of their estates and come up with a well thought-out cut policy on how best to dispose of unwanted plots.

The panel has also suggested that the department considers exploring the tourism potential of some of the heritage buildings in which post offices are located.