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NEW DELHI: The Department of Posts (DoP) is likely to soon start a Rs 1,370-crore mega project that will allow India's 1.3 lakh postmen in rural regions to use network-connected handheld terminals for postal delivery.
The project, awarded last year to a consortium that includes state-run Telecom Consultants of India (TCIL), system integrator Ricoh India and Hyderabad-based VisionTek, which provides handheld devices, was delayed due to unavailability of components.
Big IT companies such as HP and Wipro were also in the running for the contract rolled out by the ministry of communications & information technology. "Based on terminal devices on network, the DoP initiative is likely to happen later this month. The project was delayed as the private company took time to deliver the components," TCIL's chairman and managing director Vimal Wakhlu told ET.
The devices will have a biometric module to authenticate an individual's identity using the Aadhaar number, solar-powered panel for charging terminals and a thermal printer to instantly print receipts.
"This is completely an indigenous project, including devices and components, and strengthens the concept of 'Make in India'," said Wakhlu.
The initiative is aimed at preventing postal losses and minimising procedural delays. The service will require a digital signature of the addressee that can be automatically transferred to a central server and an acknowledgement sent to the person.
TCIL is roping in state-owned telecom operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd for providing network connectivity.
The movement of postmen can be tracked using GPS on this device. It will help monitor the entire system and ensure more efficiency as post offices play a vital role in India's rural economy, Wakhlu said. "This programme is a step towards financial inclusion of the people of rural India as it will facilitate financial transactions. Money can be delivered and accepted through this device, with proper bank account and receipts delivery," he said.
Ricoh will act as the systems integrator, managing installations, maintaining hardware and supplying peripheral devices for the project.
"We have won the Rs 1,370-crore contract from DoP for the supply of hardware solutions under the department's modernisation initiatives. Ricoh will be providing maintenance services for rural ICT devices for a period of five years," said Ricoh India's managing director Manoj Kumar.