'Holy mail' wants to bring Mother Ganga to your house

Soon, water from Ganges might be delivered at your doorstep by your neighbourhood postman. Announcing the accomplishments of the ministry of communications and information technology in the past two years, minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday said a proposal to deliver 'Gangajal' via an e-commerce platform is being considered.

"I used to get several requests that with the vast network of India Post, can we get Ganga water. I have directed the department of posts to utilise e-commerce platform and make arrangements for providing pure Gangajal from Haridwar/Rishikesh to people. They have assured they will take proactive steps to address cultural needs," he told reporters.

While Prasad didn't divulge details of the plan, an official said, "The department would conduct a feasibility study and figure out the whole process." While Prasad didn't divulge the details of the plan, an official in the ministry said, "The department would conduct a feasibility study and figure out how to carry out the whole process, from end-to-end. Only after that, some decision would be taken. If a postman can deliver mobile phones, sarees, jewellery and apparels, he can also deliver Ganga water."

Prasad said the parcel revenue of post offices has increased by 80 per cent during his time in the ministry, thanks to the push on delivering e-commerce products. "Speed Post revenue of the department has increased from Rs 1,372 crore in 2013-14 to Rs 1,600 crore in 2015-16. Cash on delivery collections for e-commerce parcels have increased from Rs 100 crore to Rs 1,300 crore in the same period," Prasad said.

He said by the end of this year, all postmen in urban centres will be given smartphones, and handheld devices will be provided to postmen in 130,000 rural post offices by March 2017. "As many as 4,000 handheld devices have already been given. It will help in financial inclusion. These devices will act as moving ATM. Postmen of urban centres will get smartphones. We will provide (smartphones) by end of this year," Prasad said.

On plans for India Post payments bank, Prasad said he has given the department free reigns to start the operations the way it deems fit. When asked if the payments bank CEO would be from the private sector, Prasad said, that is for India Post to decide.

Three of the 11 players who had earlier shown interest in floating payments bank have already opted out. Prasad, however, said India Post has a huge network and its payments bank would serve a lot of people.

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