Working in batches.

Working in batches.

Central govt staff to have staggered timings; no bio-metric attendance

50% officers, staff to attend alternate days; states cannot dilute curbs: MHA

Agency Report | New Delhi | 18 May, 2020 | 11:30 PM

The Central Government on Monday said that biometric attendance will continue to be suspended during the fourth phase of the lockdown as it issued guidelines on regulation of attendance in government offices.

Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions said that all officers of the level of Deputy Secretary and above shall attend office on all working days.

“Biometric attendance shall continue to be suspended until further orders. For regulating the attendance of officers and staff below the level of Deputy Secretary, all Heads of the Department shall prepare a roster so as to ensure that 50 per cent of officers and staff attend office on every alternate day,” the guidelines added.

Those officers or staff who are not required to attend office on a particular day shall work from home and should be available on telephone and electronic means of communications at all times.

“All Heads of the Department shall also ensure that the 50 percent officers and staff who attend office observe staggered timings: 1st shift – 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., 2nd shift – 9.30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 3rd shift – 10 a.m. to 6.30 p.m.”

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has come up with a fresh order for the states and Union Territories (UTs) instructing them “not to dilute” its guidelines issued for the lockdown 4.0 that began from Monday for two more weeks till May 31. The guidelines were about the opening up of the red zones to boost the economic activities and permit transportation to balance the fight against COVID-19 thereby limiting the economic damage.

In the order, issued by the Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla to the Chief Secretaries of all states and UTs, it is mentioned that states and UTs cannot dilute restrictions imposed in the MHA guidelines and can only make them stricter based on the local level assessment and the Health Ministry guidelines.

The order was issued on Sunday, soon after the MHA issued the guidelines for lockdown 4.0 to lower the spread of the deadly pandemic which so far has claimed 3,029 deaths and infected over 96,000 people across the country.

The MHA on Sunday issued revised guidelines regarding the lockdown restrictions, to contain the COVID-19 virus with “widespread relaxations given in the restrictions”.

Under the new guidelines effective from Monday, states and UTs would now “delineate the red, orange and green zones, taking into consideration the revised guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) on Sunday”.

Inside the red and orange zones, containment and buffer zones would be identified by the local authorities, based on local level technical inputs and Health Ministry guidelines, the MHA guidelines mentioned.

Within the containment zones, the guidelines said, strict perimeter would be maintained as earlier and only essential activities would be allowed.

Limited activities would continue to be prohibited throughout the country but “all other activities would be permitted except the ones that are specifically prohibited under the MHA guidelines”.

In view of these points, the MHA has reiterated to the states and UTs that despite widespread relaxations given in the lockdown restrictions under revised guidelines, they “cannot dilute the restrictions imposed in the MHA guidelines”.

They may prohibit “certain other activities or impose restrictions, as deemed necessary on the basis of ground level analysis of the situation”, the order said.

Further, it has been communicated that states and UTs must take into consideration the benchmarks and thresholds indicated in the revised guidelines issued by the MoHFW, while delineating zones at local level.

“It has also been urged to give wide publicity to the Centre and respective state guidelines at local level for the convenience of the public,” the order issued by the Home Secretary reads.

The lockdown since March 25, which entered its 55th day on Monday, has battered the economy and dealt a severe blow to daily wagers and the poor, posing a serious challenge for the Narendra Modi-led Central government.

The new nationwide lockdown guidelines got extension for the third time on Sunday, which was first imposed from March 25 and then extended from April 15 and May 4.