Amid rising cases, Secretariat staff scared to turn up for work

Staff at the B.R.K.R. Bhavan, the temporary State secretariat, are in a fix following the rise in COVID-19 cases on the premises.

While positive cases have been detected among some bureaucrats and officers in key departments like Revenue, Home and Education, there has been no initiative on the government’s part to regulate the attendance of employees. The employees are lamenting that the seriousness with which steps were taken to minimise incidence of the infection during the second wave has been lacking this time around.

Close to 2,000 employees and officers are functioning from the temporary secretariat. This is in addition to a clutch of visitors coming to the secretariat with various grievances. There have been restrictions on the movement of visitors but the government has not taken any steps to ensure that the staff is segregated and only a section of them is allowed to attend duty on a daily basis.

The government, during the second wave, had allowed work from home for around 50% employees on a weekly basis and movement of files was mostly done online during that time. A few departments took steps to minimise the presence of employees in their respective wings, but that happened through oral communication. “There are no official orders restricting the presence of employees,” an employees’ union leader told The Hindu .

Moreover, the absence of equipment like thermal scanners at different points within the secretariat to detect symptoms has been a cause of concern. “Area abutting the lifts in particular where groups of people gather to go to top floors gives scope to the spread of infection. But no measures have been put in place to contain it,” the employees’ leader said.

Spraying of disinfectants which was discontinued of late is, however, said to have resumed since the past few days with officials concerned supervising sanitisation of the premises. Employees are citing the latest order issued by the Union Department of Economic Affairs wherein seven days special leave will be granted to government servants affected with COVID-19 and work from home for seven days would be allowed in the event of their dependents testing positive.

There is, however, no such initiative on the part of the State government, they lamented.

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Printable version | May 24, 2022 3:33:24 pm |