Nearly 40 senior and mid-level executives of Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), including the Chairman and a number of its directors working out of the corporate headquarters of the Delhi-based state-owned company, are reported to have tested positive for COVID-19 or are under preventive home isolation, according to company sources. On June 10, one of the company’s directors — Director (Personnel) Atul Srivastava — passed away at Delhi’s Apollo Hospital.
SAIL Chairman Anil Kumar Chaudhary is also reported to have tested positive for COVID-19 and has been in home isolation for the past 10 days, sources said. SAIL did not respond to specific questions sent by The Indian Express on the issue.
“Following the MHA orders on reopening of government offices, we had all been asked to report to work. There were strict orders. Barely 10-15 people are coming to the office now,” an employee working at the corporate office said on the condition of anonymity. At least three senior employees confirmed that scale of spread of the disease at the steel company’s corporate headquarters.
On the company’s Director (Personnel) passing away, SAIL had at 03:47 on June 11 issued a statement saying that Srivastava had passed away at the hospital due to “cardiac arrest”.
“Shri Srivastava, diagnosed Corona Negative, was running fever of 101+ for the last few days. Earlier in the day on 10th June, when he was experiencing difficulty in breathing, he was advised admission in the Hospital,” the company said in a note.
The company’s employee union, however, released a letter the next day, which claimed that Srivastava was diagnosed COVID-19 positive, and that he lost his life “obeying orders thrust upon him and all employees of SAIL in general” by the Chairman’s office.
The employee union letter, signed by its general secretary Raj Solanki, also said that the press release informing everyone of the passing away of Srivastava was sent even before the family members were informed.
“In fact, there is a clear attempt to suppress facts and there is a deliberate attempt to show the death of Late Sri Srivastava, as a death due to natural causes. Further, we have come to know that the death certificate issued by the concerned agencies has also mentioned that the deceased was COVID positive,” the letter alleged.
SAIL later responded to the letter in another press note, saying it was “unsubstantiated”, and that Solanki, the signatory of the letter, was “demanding personal gains from the top management”. Solanki could not be reached for comments for this story.
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