New Delhi (Steel Industry News): SAIL management is struggling with two different adversities these days — one natural and the other, man-made. The COVID-19 caseload is one and the handling of employees' resentment and fear and the leakage of information is the other. Different media organisations have reported a different number of positive cases, while the official channels are yet to comment on the number of active cases. Or they are tightlipped on the several occasions that PSU Watch has reached out to them. Sources, however, have confirmed that the number of positive cases are around 25-30 and this includes Chairman Anil Kumar Chaudhary, who is home quarantined. Offices have opened since June 8, but attendance is minimal. And fear is the operative word for SAIL employees these days.
The fresh sore is the allegation made by the SAIL employees' union about the real cause of the death of Director (Personnel) Atul Srivastava who died Thursday night and the mismanagement of the pandemic by authorities. SAIL, in a press release, sent on June 11 stated in bold that Srivastava was diagnosed *Corona Negative*, leaving no space for speculation. "He had his dinner and went to sleep. He suffered cardiac arrest late night and was shifted to Emergency, where despite best efforts of the doctors could not be revived," the statement had added. Srivastava died in the night and the press release had hit inboxes at 3:47 am.
The SAIL employees union, in a letter written to the SAIL Chairman, alleged, "There is an attempt to cover up the event surrounding the unfortunate demise of Director (Personnel). We all know, that he along with most of the directors of SAIL and senior officers in Chairman's Secretariat, had been diagnosed COVID-19 positive. There is a clear attempt to suppress facts and there is a deliberate attempt to show the death of late Shri Shrivastava as a death due to natural causes. Further, we have come to know that the death certificate issued by the concerned agency has also mentioned the deceased was COVID positive." It also stated, "Incidently, late Shrivastava is being cremated at the Punjabi Bagh crematorium which is a designated crematorium for death due to COVID-19 in Delhi."
When we tried to contact the signatory of the letter, Raj Solanki, who happens to be the General Secretary of the SAIL employees' union, regarding the copy of the death certificate he has based his claims on, he said that a lot of reporters have asked for a copy but he can not give that because this is his personal fight. He also stressed that he is not willing to disclose anything to the media. However, his claims that Director (Personnel) was in the first five positive COVID cases were duly verified by PSU Watch. At the same time, it was also verified that the Srivastava had co-morbidity conditions of heart ailment and diabetes.
Commenting on the letter, sent by the SAIL Employees' Union and signed by Solanki, through a Facebook post, SAIL said that the letter was 'unsubstantiated.' It also said, "The Company stands strong and united with the bereaved family of Late Shri Atul Srivastava, Director (Personnel), SAIL at this time of unfortunate loss of theirs and SAIL as a whole. The Company has all along taken all measures and steps as per the guidelines of the GOI to ensure a safe and healthy work atmosphere, including flexible work schedules and rosters."
"The signatory of the letter Raj Solanki was demanding personal gains from the top management, which was untenable. There are ample possibilities that only for the sake of fulfilling personal gains, an attempt has been made to indulge in vendetta and arm-twist the management by spreading rumour and casting aspersions with this kind of an unsubstantiated letter. However, all such misadventures will be foiled and the Team SAIL is determined to fight back and will continue to remain in the path of glory," it added.
On the allegations of arm-twisting and personal gains, Solanki told PSU Watch that he has not fully read the company's response and will respond later.
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