JAGATSINGHPUR: Even as persons with comorbidities are more susceptible to contract coronavirus, the district administration has assigned election duty to nearly 150 Government employees including school teachers suffering from diabetics, cancer, heart ailments and chronic respiratory diseases ahead of the Tirtol bypoll.
Though there are young employees in various departments, the administration has chosen to engage the vulnerable staff to carry out poll-related activities.
One such employee is headmaster of Gobind Chandra Vidyapeeth in Nuagarh panchayat of Kujang block Prasant Mohapatra who is suffering from cancer since the last two years.
Prasant said, “I have been assigned the duty of presiding officer for Tirtol by-election despite the fact that I cannot move on my own. My children accompany me to school every day. Since cancer patients are at increased risk of catching the Covid-19 infection, I have sent my application to the authorities concerned to exempt me from election duty.”
Prasant further informed that he had recommended names of all the 10 teachers of the school for poll duty.
“As I suffer from cancer, had not included my name. But surprisingly, I was selected for election duty while all the other teachers were spared,” he added.
Another teacher saddled with election duty is headmaster of Dhinkia High School Sudhir Samantray who was admitted in the local hospital last month for treatment of hypertension and diabetes.
“Doctors have advised me to take rest due to my health condition. How can the election office find me suitable for a job that requires moving in interior villages in this risky situation?” he asked.
Similarly, headmaster of Kutamchandi High School at Odisso Sarat Chandra Barik will retire in two months but has been given the duty of presiding officer for Tirtol by-election.
“I also suffer from blood pressure and diabetes and hence, face a high chance of experiencing serious complications from Covid-19. I have applied for exemption from election duty,” he said.
Apart from these three teachers, nearly 150 employees with comorbidities are in a state of dread after being assigned poll duty.
These employees alleged that the district officials are harassing and humiliating them for applying for exemption from election duty.
Sources said many such persons are queuing up at the election office to apply for poll duty exemption.
Deputy Collector (Establishment) Arundhati Patnaik said though the administration has received hundreds of applications for exemption from poll duty.
“We have constituted a committee to look into the applications. A person seeking exemption on health grounds will be exempted if the committee finds the case to be genuine,” she added.