Employees of the state government’s judicial department work in a corridor of Writers’ Buildings on Wednesday. Picture by Sanat Kumar Sinha
The chief minister came up with more beat-the-heat tips on Wednesday morning as the swelter spell stretched on.
After arriving at the state secretariat around 11.20am, Mamata Banerjee asked security personnel and policemen posted at the central gate to stay away from the sun.
“Don’t remain in the sun. Stay in the shade for some time, somewhere,” Mamata said before entering Writers’ Buildings.
Some of the chief minister’s security personnel have no option but to stay outdoors most of the day.
For the employees indoors, the state government decided to install water coolers and exhaust fans to provide some relief from the heat.
Earlier in the day, employees at the judicial department’s office on the first floor of the secretariat had worked in the corridor because their room had become cauldron-like.
“The condition is so bad inside the room that we cannot work there. We have to keep the lights on throughout the day which makes the room more hot,” said an employee of the department.
“The heat inside the room is almost suffocating,” said another employee. Last week, one of the employees had fallen sick while working, allegedly because of the heat.
The “protest” prompted the state government to take steps to pacify employees, especially those whose offices are on the top floor of Writers’.
Senior PWD officials visited top-floor offices before announcing that exhaust fans will be installed there and in rooms like that of the judicial department where air circulation is poor.
Officials of the rank of joint secretary or above get air-conditioned chambers. During the Left Front rule, employees of different departments, most of them from the third floor, had agitated to press for installation of AC machines in their rooms.
“In 2010, employees of the information and cultural affairs department had forced the government to install AC machines temporarily. This time only the judicial department employees had raised a demand for better working condition during summer. But the state government realised the judicial department’s protest could spread to other departments and decided to take some measures immediately,” said a senior official at Writers’.
Eight water-coolers will also be installed in the first, second and third floors of Writers’. “The process of installing the water coolers would be completed as soon as possible,” said an official.
The chief minister’s office has sent a requisition to install air-conditioners in the chambers of some officials so that they can work comfortably.