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Monday morning blues' Go to Andhra

Hyderabad, Oct. 10: Babus ' 2.37 lakh of them ' went on strategic leave today, but Andhra Pradesh’s bean counters are breathing easy.

Over 35 per cent of the state government employees in Andhra took casual leave so that the near-continuous chain of paid holidays from last Saturday would not be broken.

As the Dussehra mood kicked in, most employees left offices after putting in half a day’s work on Friday. From Saturday, the holidays began. Sunday was day off as usual and with Tuesday and Wednesday declared holidays as well, Monday was the problem.

So Andhra’s babus took casual leave, en masse.

“It amounts to over 35 per cent of a total staff strength of 7.5 lakh employees on government rolls going on leave,” said Poornachandra Rao, a labour leader.

Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy’s finance ministry, however, did not seem bothered. “It will only mean a cut in the salary bill by nearly Rs 17 to 20 crore a day. Anyway, even if anyone attended office they could not have done any work,” an unconcerned official said.

Labour laws allow 3 per cent of the employee strength in an office to go on leave at any one time. The 35 per cent drop in strength is in addition to the permitted 3 per cent, Rao said.

The general administration department was aghast at the poor turnout in the secretariat and government offices here. “We appear to have over 62 per cent employees on leave in addition to the 8 per cent absentees,” said a senior official.

The number of absentees was higher in the Telengana and coastal Andhra districts. In Karimnagar and Nizamabad almost everybody took a day off. “Except in key police and collectors’ offices, there was no one present,” said an official from Karimnagar.

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