Mumbai: State Transport (ST) department's 114 employees have found to be COVID-19 positive till Saturday (July 4), of which 56 - the highest number of cases - is from the Mumbai division. ST department issued an official statement regarding the number of positive cases in its employees. Thane division has 30 cases with two deaths reported so far.
The state government had started Best bus service for government and private employees engaged in essential services, to commute from their home to office from various suburbs of Mumbai region. After the relaxations were given in lockdown in Unlock 1.0, the number of passengers increased due to which ST buses were also brought on roads to ferry passengers.
It is suspected that necessary precautions were not taken by the ST management for its employees while pressing them into service for essential purposes. With the rising number of cases in its department, the senior officers had sought a report on this issue.
The division controllers of ST shared data of such cases reported till Saturday. This report revealed that a total of 114 ST employees have been tested positive for COVID-19 so far. After Mumbai, the most number of cases were reported from Thane, Pune and Solapur division. Despite such a high number of patients, the ST management has not taken preventive measures to avoid infection spread from these employees. Employees have alleged that this apathy would lead to more cases in the department.
The Maharashtra ST Workers Congress (INTUC) organisation, has alleged that the highest number of cases are actually from Thane division, but ST officers are hiding the facts.
State Transport Minister, Anil Parab, had recently announced that the family of any employee who dies COVID-19 will be given Rs 50 lakh as compensation. One officer Madhav Kale - who even after his tenure was over - had then issued a circular on June 1, later deemed to be unofficial, instructing the division controllers to issue compensation to families of such employees. The ST Workers Congress INTUC had alleged that the circular itself was illegal. But, so far no official circular has been issued by the ST department. So, employees are questioning the claim of compensation grant made by the government.