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N-E Delhi hits ‘new low’, deputes 6 govt teachers to assist in Covid bodies management

The teachers have been allocated shifts & will be required to coordinate between families of the dead, hospital staff & hearse van drivers, for proper and timely removal of bodies

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New Delhi: Officials of Delhi government’s north-east districts have directed six government school teachers to ensure proper removal of bodies of Covid patients.

According to an order issued by the sub divisional magistrate, north-east Delhi, Vikram Bisht — a copy of which is with ThePrint — the six teachers have been put on shifts, extending from 6am to 2pm, 2pm to 10pm, and 10pm to 6am, to coordinate with the staff at the capital’s Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital, to ensure timely and proper disposal of the bodies. The teachers’ mobile numbers have been also been mentioned in the order, to facilitate communication with the hospital staff.

The order has, however, disturbed teachers, who feel that this is not what they had signed up for.

Meanwhile, North-east Delhi’s District Magistrate Geetika Sharma told ThePrint that teachers are only expected to coordinate between families, hospital staff and hearse van drivers apart from answering any calls related to this.

Delhi reported 26,169 new Covid cases and 306 deaths Thursday. Crematoriums have also had to increase capacities amidst rising Covid casualties.

Also read: Delhi’s cumulative death rate doesn’t give you the full picture of the second wave. Here’s why

Graveyard shift

The teachers on duty will be expected to contact the nodal officer of GTB Hospital and ensure proper Covid-19 guidelines are being followed while removing the bodies, the order stated. “The teacher will also remain in contact with Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), north east (NE), and ensure that (phone) calls regarding hearse van are disposed off on time,” it added.

But the order has, however, earned the ire of the teachers.

“We want to help, but this is a new low. This is not what we joined the teaching profession for,” one of the staff told ThePrint, requesting anonymity.

Another teacher of a Delhi government school, also speaking on condition of anonymity said, “Today, they’ve started with one hospital and one district, tomorrow it will be our turn, and there’s nothing that they haven’t made teachers do — from ration distribution to conducting surveys, to our primary role of teaching students online … yet, we don’t even receive our salaries in time.”

The order was issued with the approval of the district magistrate.

Talking to ThePrint, district magistrate north-east Delhi, Geetika Sharma said, “We have limited staff and are already deprived of manpower, hence we had to rope in teachers.”

Sharma added that the decision was taken after receiving repeated complaints from families of the deceased about delays and problems in removing bodies.

“We received multiple calls and complaints from anxious families, who have lost their loved ones to Covid-19, about how dead bodies weren’t being removed in time,” she said, adding that concerns about this had been raised by GTB Hospital as well.

GTB is a key Covid-19 treatment facility in the city, and the hospital’s patient load has gone up exponentially since the second wave of Covid started.

“Teachers are not expected to be present at crematoriums, but only ensure calls [for help] are answered and to coordinate between families, the GTB staff and hearse van drivers,” the DM added. She said if any teacher had any concern in this regard, they could meet her personally at her office. “I will be present in my office all day Saturday too, and they can meet me if there is any problem,” she told ThePrint.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: North Delhi mayor claims ‘more Covid deaths’ took place than reported by Kejriwal govt


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