Even after at least half a dozen deaths and scores of employees testing positive, senior officials of Southern Railway (SR) are allowing vulnerable members of staff to report for duty, exposing them to coronavirus infection.
This is not limited to the administrative headquarters alone.
Two senior technicians of Perambur Carriage Works, including a 59-year-old, died about a week before the SSE’s death. Both were continually reporting for duty. A source added that more than 20 employees there have tested positive till date. Similarly, six employees tested positive at the joint office in Perambur, where a 55-year-old accounts assistant became the first COVID death in SR.
Shockingly, the workshop has been functioning without formal approval from the regional joint director of industries and without e-pass for the staff. This was brought out by a letter from its chief workshop manager (CWM) to SR’s chief workshops engineer (CWE) on June 23, seeking instructions to close the workshop till the end of the lockdown. In the letter, the CWM admitted that about 22 had tested positive, and application with regional industries director and online application for e-pass for employees were pending.
“The State government guidelines insist that RT-PCR test should be done for employees at least once or they should stay there for 12 days if they are already tested. No test has been done,” said an employee.
The SSE’s death was raised at a divisional meeting during which the DRM pulled up department heads for not overseeing working of aged staff properly, which could have prevented the SSE’s death. Following an order by the Madras High Court, the divisional personnel department had issued a circular on June 22, directing strict compliance of MHA guidelines.
When asked, an official spokesman said, “We have instructed supervisors and officials to strictly enforce the MHA guidelines. If any violation is found, the supervisor concerned would be held accountable and action taken.”