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Thursday, June 24, 2021

UP relents on poll duty deaths: ‘Will find a way’

The move comes after associations representing teachers and employees threatened to boycott work, saying that the government's norms to define poll duty deaths had flaws.

Written by Maulshree Seth | Lucknow |
Updated: May 21, 2021 10:51:33 am
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Aditiyanath along with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in Lucknow. (PTI)

CAPPING A face-off between the UP government, and associations of teachers and employees, over those who died of Covid linked to panchayat poll duty, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath Thursday directed senior officials to “find a way” to compensate those affected after consulting the State Election Commission.

The directions were issued to the Chief Secretary and Additional Chief Secretary (Panchayati Raj) during a Covid review meeting chaired by Adityanath.

“The government was considering the guidelines of the Election Commission in this regard. But these guidelines are old and prepared before the pandemic. Thus, the need was felt for changes. Officials have been asked to coordinate with the Election Commission, discuss, and find a way out,” Navneet Sehgal, Additional Chief Secretary (Information), told The Indian Express.

The move comes after associations representing teachers and employees threatened to boycott work, saying that the government’s norms to define poll duty deaths had flaws.

The Opposition, too, came out in support of the teachers and employees, with Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, BSP chief Mayawati and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav backing their demands.

Last week, the Allahabad High Court asked the government to consider giving Rs 1 crore to families of those who died of Covid after poll duty. It also criticised the “deliberate act” of the government and state poll panel Election “to force them to perform duties in the absence of RT-PCR support”.

The Uttar Pradesh Prathmik Shikshak Sangh, a body for primary teachers, has linked the elections to the Covid deaths of 1,621 teachers and staff.

But the government’s count is just three based on guidelines, which log poll duty from the time an official leaves home for polling or counting and returns. Any death during this period is considered as death during poll duty and the family is given compensation, officials said.

Following demands from the associations, the government had decided to include Covid deaths in the list of compensation of Rs 30 lakh per family but the definition of poll duty has not been changed.

“The CM has directed…that Chief Secretary and Additional Chief Secretary Panchayati Raj co-ordinate with the State Election Commission and request for amendments in the guidelines so that employees, who were infected and died within the specified time period, can also be included,” said a government spokesperson.

“We will wait until the government order comes out, and see what clause is included, as many teachers and employees had become infected during poll training too due to lack of social distancing and protocol,” said Harikishore Tiwari, president, Uttar Pradesh Rajya Karamchari Sanyukta Parishad.

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