Use, purchase of ACs in MCG, HSVP come under scanner

In April, the Haryana government had banned the use of central air conditioners fearing an increase in spread of Covid-19.
MCG office C-1 in Sector 34 in Gurgaon.(Parveen Kumar/Hindustan Times)
MCG office C-1 in Sector 34 in Gurgaon.(Parveen Kumar/Hindustan Times)
Updated on Jul 30, 2020 01:58 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Gurugram | ByKartik Kumar

Officials of both Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) and Haryana Shahri Vikas Pradhikaran (HSVP) have been asked to provide an explanation as to why they purchased air-conditioners, and switched on the air-conditioning system in their offices. despite directions prohibiting so.

In April, the Haryana government had banned the use of central air conditioners fearing an increase in spread of Covid-19. Similarly in May, the state government had directed that austerity measures be adopted due to shortage of revenue and had hence prohibited the purchase of luxury items, including air conditioners.

Last week, HSVP officials received a complaint that some of their staff members had switched on the central air-conditioning systems. Similarly in MCG, an internal complaint was raised that at least seven officials have purchased air-conditioners, some using public funds, and placed them in their respective office cabins.

Separate internal investigations have been initiated in both matters. Incidentally, both MCG and HSVP share an office in sector 34.

While the HSVP owns the building and occupies its ground floor, MCG pays a monthly rent of Rs 20 lakh to the HSVP for operating out of the remaining three floors of the building.

“As per the guidelines issued by the Haryana government, central air-conditioning system is not permitted inside government offices for the time being. The scenario will remain the same until a direction is received stating otherwise. Any report of violations is being promptly examined and concerned officials are being asked for an explanation. We are monitoring all developments related to violations,” said Vinay Pratap Singh, commissioner, MCG.

MCG officials began working from the Sector 34 office from April 24, even as a nationwide lockdown remained in place. Just five days later, on April 29, the Haryana government issued an advisory to all government offices to stop using central air conditioning systems to prevent the possible spread of Covid.

In May, there were several occasions where MCG officials were found to have violated this rule and turned on the central air-conditioning system, following which the MCG commissioner had cautioned workers and warned that a repeat could lead to disciplinary action.

Due to the lack of air-conditioning, a lot of MCG officials ,in the meanwhile, opted to work from only on alternate days or come to office only twice a week.

“The problem with the office is that there are no windows. Even if it is raining outside, the office remains stuffy due to lack of any air outlet/circulation. Hence, I am only going to office when there is teamwork needed or a presentation needs to be given. On all other days, I am continuing to work from home,” said an MCG official, in the taxation wing.

Regarding last week’s incident, Vivek Kalia, estate officer, HSVP said he has also asked officials for an explanation on the issue.

The problem arising from a lack of air-conditioners, however, is not limited only to public offices. Employees of several private offices too have been forced to sweat it out in heat and humidity, with the air conditioning in their building being switched off .

In May, HT had reported that the Haryana government had issued standard operating procedures (SOP) only allowing companies and industrial units to use window or split AC units. As a result, many office spaces located in commercial buildings with a common central air-conditioning system had extended the work from home option to their employees rather than making them sweat it out in their otherwise swanky offices.

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