With over 100 New Delhi Municipal Council staff members affected by Covid-19 and part of the building sealed, a new notice to resume office work with 100 per cent staff presence has left the employees in the lurch
All the departments, divisions, and branches were directed to function in full strength with immediate effect, as per the circular issued by Director (Personal) R.P. Sati on July 6.
"Exception given to persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women etc. They will apply for permission to be given on submission of a written request supported by medical papers," the circular stated.
A day after the notice was issued, room number 1508 of the fifteenth floor belonging to the civil engineering department was sealed and shuttered after two officials tested positive for coronavirus.
"The cases are increasing day-by-day. As many as 126 people have contracted the disease till now and eight have succumbed to the virus," an official told IANS on the condition of anonymity.
Out of the total cases, 22 employees are currently in home-quarantine, four are hospitalized, 85 have recovered, eight have died while the status of seven employees is awaited.
The official feared that the field as well as office workers might bring the infection to the cramped office as the work in the council usually involves public dealing.
"NDMC has over 5,000 field workers deployed at COVID centers, for antigen testing, gathering serosurvey, and other works. If they come back to the building, they might bring infection. Similarly, office employees who come by public transport could also bring the virus," the NDMC official rued.
On the contrary, Director Coordination and In-charge of COVID-19 Cell, Virender Singh said, "We are an essential service. We have electricity, water, sanitization, and medical health department. This is just like the police department or our forces on the borders who cannot have 50 per cent attendance. Come what may, they have to work."
Irked by the recent circular, Sudhakar Kumar, President of NDMC Karamchari Sangh, shot a letter to the council asserting that the health of the employees is in jeopardy. He requested them to make arrangements to protect the employees from the virus.
The union leader said that 100 per cent attendance has been made compulsory at a time when three employees have tested positive in a week. An official tested positive on July 3 and two others on July 7.
Kumar further contended that the NDMC comes under the ambit of the Home Ministry, but the recent directions were passed as per the orders of the Delhi government.
"If Delhi government's order is being applied to NDMC, the ex-gratia should also be increased from Rs 15 lakh to Rs one crore," the union leader demanded.
This comes at a time when the number of coronavirus cases in the national capital has surpassed the one lakh mark and as many as 3,000 people have died..