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Ministers return to work as government aims to kickstart economy post lockdown

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Union Ministers and officers have started to return to their offices On Monday, two days after a directive that all government officials who are entitled to official vehicles should return to work.

The move to resume work in ministries comes nearly a month after the government issued work from home protocols in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic and Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressing on Saturday that “Jaan bhi jahaan bhi (both life and economy are important)” as the lockdown has put severe stress on the Indian economy.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar, Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister DV Sadananda Gowda, Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda and Minister of State for Youth Affairs Kiren Rijiju were some of the early office-goers on Monday.

Along with the ministers and senior officials, their support staff too has been asked to join work. The ministers have been asked to work with 50 per cent of their staff. The support staff members, who do not have official vehicles and have no means of public transport, had to find their own ways to get to their offices.

“Only senior officials and the minimum required staff will be coming to the office today onwards. We’ll follow all guidelines regarding COVID-19,” Rijiju told a news agency.

Ministers and officials were screened with temperature guns before they entered the buildings. Their vehicles too were sanitised at the gate. Some of the ministers and secretaries were not checked for their temperatures.

Senior officials entitled to official transports—from the rank of joint secretary and above—will report as usual, sources had said on Saturday, adding that a third of all essential staff had to be present. Junior officials will continue to work on rotation basis. Each ministry has also been told to plan for post-lockdown and come up with ideas to kick-start the economy.

After a meeting with at least 13 chief ministers on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had indicated that the nationwide lockdown will be extended but there will be relaxations in certain areas and cases to ensure the survival of the economy as well. Towards the end of the meeting, PM Modi said, “Jaan bhi jahaan bhi (both life and economy are important)”.

Coronavirus has infected killed 308 people in India and infected over 9,000.

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