Demand for rotational shifts after PMC teacher on Covid duty gets infected, dies
A 44-year-old music teacher and frontline Covid warrior died after being infected by Covid-19 on Sunday, prompting sharp reactions from teachers deputed on Covid duty.
There are around 2,700 teachers in the city and adjoining rural areas working as Covid warriors conducting home to home surveys with safety gears like masks and gloves.
Govind Bhilare worked as a Covid warrior for home-to-home surveys and contact tracing work in PMC jurisdiction for the past three months.
This is the first death of a Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) appointed teacher in the city who was on Covid duty, according to civic officials. Following Bhilare’s death, the Maharashtra state teachers association has demanded that PMC teachers should not be given Covid duties citing they are already overburdened with work.
The teachers’ body said many of the PMC teachers are working in Covid teams and also taking online classes and additional school work.
Bhilare, a Pakhwaj player, was working as a music teacher in PMC for the last 15 years and would go for classes to PMC schools in Katraj division on a rotational basis. He is survived by his wife, daughter, son and parents. He has played Pakhwaj with several prominent artists like Ustad Jhakir Hussain, Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and many others at classical music programmes like the Sawai Gandharv, and also at some international music events.
“Due to the mismanagement of the PMC, we have lost one of our best music teacher and a great artist from Pune city. He was working tirelessly for the society for the last three months as Covid warrior. He didn’t have any health issues prior to the Covid infection. A few days back, he tested positive and was admitted to the Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital and on August 2, he took his last breath while undergoing treatment. Until now, around 18 of our teachers performing Covid duties have tested positive for the infection and Bhilare is the first casualty among PMC teachers,” said Sachin Dimble, Pune division association head.
On Monday, a four-member committee of primary teachers association, Pune division had a meeting with PMC commissioner Vikram Kumar about the duties issue.
“For the 3 to 4 months 2,700 PMC teachers have been given duties of Covid related work. It includes right from swab testing of people, contact tracing, area surveys, disaster management works, and taking information about positive patients. In this, there is direct contact with Covid positive patients. The main thing which was disappointing for us was that duties were given throughout the three months without any rotational method. Today, we meth the PMC commissioner and demanded that all our teachers should be given rotational duties of 14 days according to the state government guidelines. We are ready to work for the Covid duties but in a rotational method. Physically, our teachers are exhausted now but due to the fear of losing their job they are performing Covid duties,” added Dimble.
When the association representatives met PMC commissioner Vikram Kumar on Monday, they demanded to immediately change duties pattern to a rotational method.
Kumar said, “Currently, due to a shortage in staff we cannot change allotted duties to teachers immediately but I will look into this issue personally and do the needful.”