NEW DELHI, April 18: The Postal Department has delivered over 100 tonnes of medicines and other medical supplies across the country using freight flights and mail vans during the coronavirus lockdown, the Union home ministry said.
Addressing a press conference on COVID-19, home ministry Joint Secretary Punya Salia Srivastava said over two lakh postmen and gramin dak sevaks are ensuring payments to beneficiaries of various government schemes through India Post Payment Bank using Aadhaar-based payments.
She said over 100 tonnes of medicines, testing kits and ventilators have been delivered to hospitals and other consumers by the Indian Postal Department during the lockdown.
The country is under a lockdown since March 25 due to coronavirus spread. The lockdown has now been extended till May 3.
"The department has made special efforts to deliver interstate and intrastate mails during the period. It is committed to ensure door step delivery of pensions and other social benefits provided to people by the government," she said.
"Through this system, hundreds of crores of payments of social security pensions, direct benefit transfers have been made to widows, senior citizens and specially-abled people at their door steps," she said.
The department in collaboration with district administrations and NGOs have also distributed food items and ration during the lockdown, she said.
Mobile post offices are functioning across the country, providing basic postal and financial services, she said.
Srivastava said states and Union territories are making efforts to ensure that the lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus is successful.
Banks and markets need extra attention for which they are making all efforts, she said.
The home ministry on Thursday exempted collection, cutting and processing of minor forest produce and non-wood forest produce from the lockdown.
Farming, harvesting, packaging, processing sales and marketing of bamboo, coconut, supari, coco and spices has also been exempted.
The ministry has allowed Cooperative Credit Societies and Non Banking Financial Companies to operate with minimum staff, she said, adding that construction works in rural areas pertaining to water supply, electricity and telecom projects will continue during the lockdown.
The number of novel coronavirus cases in India rose by 1,007 and 23 deaths were reported in 24 hours, taking the tally of total infections to 13,387 and fatalities to 437, a health ministry official said, adding that 1,749 people have been cured of the infection so far. - PTI