Unlock 1: Nearly 70 pc employees report for work at govt offices in Bengal

Kolkata, Jun 8 (PTI) A semblance of normalcy returned to govt offices in West Bengal after nearly 70 per cent of the staff reported for duty on Monday as part of the unwinding of the lockdown restrictions in place for over two months.

According to a senior government official at the state secretariat 'Nabanna', rosters have been prepared for the employees, who would be attending offices on alternate days for now, while strictly adhering to social distancing norms to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the official said.

Till last week, the government had asked only 50 per cent of the workforce to attend office.

'We have made all arrangements for the safety of our employees. Sanitsers have been provided at all departments. And the roster has been prepared in a way that would ensure employee attend office on alternate days. As the employees were informed about the roster in advance, they could make necessary preparations to reach offices,' he said.

Departments such as home, agriculture, marketing and finance have registered high attendance.

Similar scenes were witnessed at the health and education department offices in Salt Lake, he said.

Sources said the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), which had called for 100 per cent turnout from June 8, recorded almost full attendance.

Several employees, hailing from Nadia, South 24 Parganas, Hooghly, Howrah and Medinipore, however, complained that they had a horrid time reaching office, in the absence of train services.

'I and three of my colleagues hired a vehicle to reach Kolkata from Kakdwip today. We had to shell out Rs 5,000,' an employee at the state food department said.

Another employee at the education department, housed at Bikas Bhawan in Salt Lake, said he cycled down to office from Thakurpukur, covering around 25 km.

'I usually reach office by 10.15 am, and for that I board a bus by 8.30 am. Now that limited number of buses is plying the streets, I thought it's best to cycle down... That way, I could avoid the crowd in buses,' he stated.

Some officials claimed that the government should make transport arrangements for them, without which they would be exposed to the risk of contracting COVID-19.

'We cannot spend thousands of rupees everyday to come to office. And even coming to office in government-run buses is a risky affair. We are scared of COVID contamination,' an employee at the KMC tax department said. PTI SCH RMS DPB