Deploy all idle govt staff for Covid-19 duties: Maha activist

Mumbai, April 24 (IANS) As Maharashtra government grapples to control the Covid-19 pandemic in the state, a demand has been made to requisition the services of all government employees for disaster management works, here on Friday.

In a representation to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, prominent lawyer Vinod Tiwari said that under the Disaster Management Act, 2008 Sec. 18, read with Sec. 22, and the powers under Biological Disaster Management Guidelines, the state or Centre can requisition the services of any government employee.

“These can be state government employees, university-college-school teachers, all state-or-Central PSUs, corporations, undertaking, public bodies, authorities, etc. They are currently made to sit idle while only aanganwadi sevikas, police and allied departments, besides health workers are working,” Tiwari told IANS.

The written suggestions have been forwarded by the Corona Control Room to the Chief Secretary and other concerned departments for the necessary action.

Tiwari said that all categories of government staffers who are sitting at home and enjoying “an unscheduled fully-paid long leave with full perks like conveyance allowances”, must be forthwith deployed in the field daily to manage crowds and other requirements.

Their duties maybe supervising the requirements or delivery of essentials to the people, arranging food for migrants, medical or critical supplies for the ill and others who cannot step out of homes, senior citizens, civil policing and monitoring the containment zones, crowd management in shops and markets, or back-office support to the front-line anti-Corona warriors, etc, he said.

“Presently, the entire burden of this is on the meagerly-paid aanganwadi sevikas, police and health workers. All the others enjoying fat pay-perks are busy uploading funny videos and messages, or watching films and teleserials like Ramayana! This is a national emergency and all government servants must seriously join the ongoing ‘Mahabharata’ against the Coronavirus,” Tiwari urged.

He said that the provisions of DMA, being a special Central Statute, orders issued under it have an overriding effect on all other service laws and rules, including Maharashtra Civil Service Rules, 1981.

Maharashtra alone has over 4,000,000 such government employees and the impact of even half that workforce currently lolling at home, stepping out in the pandemic could work wonders in the Covid-19 hotspots.

Concurring, Mumbai Congress senior office-bearer V. P. Singh suggested that government servants should be entrusted with such duties in the vicinity of their residence which they are familiar with and can work effectively in coordination with local authorities.

“Give them suitable official clearances for self and vehicle so they can be in-charge of their immediate neighbourhood, for a few hours in the morning and evening daily. This will definitely reduce the problems of crowding that are witnessed daily in places like Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nagpur, Nashik, Aurangabad, or other hotspots,” Singh said.

Additionally, both Tiwari and Singh said the services of the disciplined youths of NCC, NSS, Scouts & Guides, NGOs can also be requisitioned as volunteers under NDMA guidelines and they may be trained in advance specifically to assist during such mega-disasters.

Singh said this kind of basic training and experience can be extremely beneficial and complement the efforts and expertise of the National Disaster Response Force, State Disaster Response Forces, or even the elite Armed Forces, in case of any future mass requirement due to any biological, chemical, ecological or nuclear disasters.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: q.najmi@ians.in)

–IANS

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