The Ministry of Home Affairs has suspended two senior Indian Administrative Service officers, and issued showcause notices to two others for “failing to ensure public health and safety” amid the three-week countrywide lockdown that entered its sixth day on Monday, PTI reported.
The additional chief secretary of transport and the principal secretary of finance – who also holds the post of divisional commissioner – have been suspended with immediate effect on charges of dereliction of duty. Meanwhile, the additional chief secretary of home and land buildings, along with the sub-divisional magistrate of Seelampur, have been served showcause notices, the home ministry said.
“It has been brought to the notice of the competent authority that the officers, who were responsible to ensure strict compliance to the instructions issued by Chairperson, National Executive Committee, formed under Disaster Management Act 2005 regarding containment of spread of Covid-19, have prima facie failed to do so,” a statement issued by the government stated.
The Centre has also initiated disciplinary proceedings against the IAS officers for committing serious lapses of security while on duty, an unidentified government official told PTI. However, the immediate cause of the action was not specified.
The decision comes amid a mass exodus of migrant workers who are desperately seeking a way out of large cities after losing their source of livelihoods during the lockdown, with thousands marching to interstate highways on foot attempting cross interstate borders and go back to their villages.
The Centre on Sunday asked all states and Union Territories to seal their borders, as migrant labourers attempted to return home on foot. It further said adequate arrangements should be made for shelter and food for the migrants in their places of work itself. All those who had already left for their homes and villages have been instructed to put under mandatory quarantine for 14 days.
Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed to all workers to stay where they are, emphasising on the risk of spreading the infection to rural pockets of the country.
The number confirmed coronavirus cases in India stood at 1,071 as of Monday morning. Out of these, 942 are being treated, 29 people have died, 99 have recovered, and one person has migrated. The highest number of cases have been reported from Kerala and Maharashtra with 194 and 193 infections. Eight Covid-19 patients have died in Maharashtra – the highest number in the country.
The Centre on Monday also clarified that all reports claiming that the three-week countrywide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus would be further extended, and said they are baseless rumours.