Bhubaneswar: The Centre's move to shut down the country's lone postal department printing press here has been opposed by several quarters and the Chief Post Master General (CPMG) of Odisha Circle has urged the government to reconsider the proposal.

CPMG (Odisha Circle) Santosh Kumar Kamila told PTI here that the move to shut down the postal printing press located in Mancheshwar Industrial Estate here is part of a policy decision.

It follows a recommendation of the Committee of Secretaries which stressed on rationalisation and modernisation, he said.

"A letter dated May 9 from the Ministry of Communication has sought closure of the press, but we have our constraints. We have requested them to reconsider the move and allow the establishment to continue," Kamila said.

Noting that the proposal is to wind up the printing press in two months, the CPMG said it is the only postal printing press in the country at present and the department needs the facility to meet its requirements.

"I have already sent two communications to the Director General Postal Services with a request to allow the printing press to continue," Kamila said.

While the next course of action will depend on the response of the authorities concerned, the department cannot afford to rely entirely upon private agencies for their requirement of printed materials, he said.

Set up in 1986, the postal printing press prints, in addition to postal materials, public utility documents like election ballots, MGNREGA booklets and Ujjwala passbooks, officials said.

The CPMG is of the view that the printing press can function in a viable and professional manner by cost-cutting and reforms measures.

The printing press at present has a staff strength of 138 and while many employees retired recently and several others are on the verge of retirement, he said.

The decision to wind up the unit has triggered criticism and protest from different quarters, including the employees union of the printing press, postal personnel as well as political parties, mainly Left outfits.

CPI's Odisha unit secretary Asish Kanungo condemned the move to shut down the printing unit and demanded a roll back of the decision.

"Instead of trying to create jobs for the unemployed, the Centre is closing down many state-run establishments. It must refrain from proceeding with such moves and work to safeguard the interests of employees and others," he said.

Senior CPI-M leader Suresh Panigrahy said the government must withdraw the decision forthwith as it would harm the employees and the country. Handing over the task entirely to private entities would be highly dangerous and unwise, he said.

Members of the Postal Printing Press Employees Union have also staged peaceful demonstration in Mancheswar protesting the move.

The employees, who feared displacement, maintained that despite modernisation and computerisation, the requirement of printing various forms at the press still remained.

The closure of the printing press would adversely affect many who are directly dependent on the unit and those in other allied sectors like ink manufacturers, paper, adhesive, waste cotton for their livelihood, said Jyotirmaya Das, President of Postal Printing Press Employees Union.

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