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Adequate safeguards for U.T. poll officials sought

Staff express their concerns to CEO

The Puducherry Unified Ministerial Staff Association has called for adequate safeguards for election officials in the wake of several polling personnel testing positive for COVID-19 and some in a critical condition battling for life.

In a memorandum to the Chief Electoral Officer, the association said it was pained to learn that officials deployed in various offices of the Returning Officer had been affected by COVID-19 and some had died. It noted that S. Adimoulame, Joint Director, Economics and Statistics, deputed as Assistant Returning Officer in RO-VIII, had died on April 25.

Apart from this, many officials who got COVID-19 were in a critical condition — one such official was Ananda Balane, assistant, Chief Secretariat, Puducherry, deputed to RO-VIII for election duty. The official’s condition was very critical, the association said. He has been undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Chennai since April 11.

According to the association, government servants were the heart and brain of the government machinery and their healthcare should be given utmost importance since they were the ones catering to various requirements of the people. The lack of adequate preventive measures prior to the conduct of the election had resulted in many of the officials contracting COVID-19, it said.

The body urged the CEO to take preventive measures during counting. Apart from stipulating that all officials and agents of candidates be tested and only those whose results returned negative be allowed inside counting centres, the association sought a reduction in the number of counting tables to avoid crowding.

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