Delhi officers overseeing movement of migrants face Centre action

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The responsibility to make arrangements to distribute food and provide shelters to the migrant workers has been with state district magistrates and their teams.

The Centre on Sunday suspended two senior bureaucrats of the Delhi government and initiated disciplinary proceedings against two others for alleged dereliction of duty during the COVID-19 lockdown. Sources said action had been taken against the bureaucrats over the exodus of migrant workers seen in the national capital over the past couple of days.

The suspended officials include Additional Chief Secretary (Transport) Renu Sharma and Principal Secretary (Finance) Rajeev Verma. Disciplinary proceedings have been initiated against Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Satyagopal and the Seelampur SDM. Both have been sent showcause notices. The order also recommends penalty against Sharma.

As the Divisional Commissioner, Verma coordinated with all state district magistrates and their teams. The responsibility to make arrangements to distribute food and provide shelters to the migrant workers has been with these teams.

As Additional Chief Secy (Transport), Sharma was in-charge of the Delhi Transport Corporation, which pressed into service buses to help migrant workers reach borders and NCR towns.

“It has been brought to the notice of the competent authority that the following officers, who were responsible to ensure strict compliance to the instructions issued by Chairperson, National Executive Committee, formed under Disaster Managment Act 2005, regarding containment of spread of COVID-19, have prima facie failed to do so,” a Home Ministry statement said. “These officers have failed to ensure public health and safety.”

The order against Sharma adds that the Additional Chief Secretary had “failed to maintain absolute integrity and devotion to duty. It is also contemplated to initiate proceedings for imposition of major penalty against her.”

Earlier, the Aam Aadmi Party, which rules Delhi, and the Uttar Pradesh BJP had traded charges over the migrant exodus on the border.

The Delhi government did not respond to the action against the officers despite repeated attempts. Sources said it was not aware of any impending action against the officers.

The power to appoint, transfer or take action against officers in the Capital lies with the Centre through the Lieutenant Governor.