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news details
Kissan Melas draw first blood, Agri officer dies due to COVID-19; 3 others test positive
Distressed employee urge LG to defer progammes
7/15/2020 1:09:40 PM



EARLY TIMES REPORT

JAMMU, July 14: Death of a young Agriculture officer due to COVID-19 and three others testing positive for the deadly virus has put a question mark over the decision of the administration to hold Kissan Pakhwara programmes, being organized at various tehsil and district headquarters.
Shocked by the untimely death of their colleague, the employees and officials of the department are demanding that this programme should be shelved forthwith.
Pertinently, the Agriculture department is observing Kissan Pakhwara from 7th to 21st of July. During the Pakhwara, Kissan Melas are being organized in various districts, tehsils and blocks in which Kissan Credit Cards (KCC) of the left out farmers are being prepared. The employees of Agriculture department and allied departments including Horticulture, Fisheries and Public sector Banks have been mobilized to attend these Melas.
These KCC cards are linked with the PM Kissan Samman Nidhi accounts of the farmers.
A young officer of Agriculture Production Department Jammu, Tejinder Pal Singh, 47, of Talab Tillo was admitted in GMC Jammu on 11th of July and was found COVID-19 positive on 12th of July but died on 14th of July. Though the official was not attending the office for the last many days but three other employees of the department have already been found positive, while reports of over 100 employees are still awaited. The office of the Director Agriculture Jammu has already been sealed. “At a time when COVID-19 infections are increasing and the headquarters of Agriculture Department Jammu have been sealed, what is the urgency of organizing Kissan Melas”, an official pleading anonymity said, adding, “It is not possible to follow Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) during the Melas”.
“Employees can strictly follow the SOPs during the Kissan Melas but you cannot expect the farmers attending the Melas to follow SOPs. Many farmers visit the Melas without masks and many are very enthusiastic to shake hands with the officials as a welcome gesture. During the lunch break or the other breaks during the Melas, SOPs are openly violated as farmers are huddled together. The crowd doesn’t follow social distancing norms or use sanitizers”, the officials, who attended the programmes said, adding that it’s not also unknown as to which one of the farmers have a travel history from Red-Zones or was infected due to COVID-19.
Pertinently, Early Times in its edition of July 11, had published a news report titled, “COVID-19: Kissan Melas organized by Agriculture Deptt in Jammu can create havoc”, in which it was maintained that SOPs are not being followed in the Kissan Melas.
“The employees of the Agriculture department and other allied departments as well as Banks are at the highest risk to catch infections during the Melas but they have been compelled to perform their duties, endangering their lives”, the officials said.
“On one hand government is emphasizing on the masses to desist from social gatherings but on the other it has forced the employees of various departments to attend social gatherings”, an official claimed, adding that employees and officials of government departments have families and the loss of any family member can never be repaid by any type of sympathy or compensation.
The officials of the department have appealed to the administration to shelve the programme and restrict the activity of the field functionaries as their lives have been put at stake.
Expressing sympathy with the family members of the deceased employee, Director Agriculture Jammu Inderjeet said that the young official, who died of COVID-19’ infection was not attending the office and was hospitalized by the family members on 11th of July.
“Three other employees have been found positive while the test reports of 100 other employees are yet to come,” he said, adding that department complex has already been sealed.
Asked about the proposal to shelve the Kissan Melas, the Director said that it was a policy decision.
Asked about violation of SOPs by farmers during Kissan Melas, Director said that the district administrations have been directed to ensure that SOPs are implemented fully. “We have also directed the officials to hold small gatherings of the farmers and ensure the SOPs including social distancing, health advisories and sanitization are followed,” he said, adding that apart from employees, “It is the social responsibility of everyone to follow SOPs.”
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