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Freezing DA Hike Drastic; Impact on Pensioners, Inhumane, says Employee Council

KOLKATA: On 23rd of April, the Finance Ministry decided to postpone the hike in dearness allowance and dearness relief July 2021. In an office memo, the Department of Expenditure said, “In view of the crisis arising out of COVID-19, it has been decided that additional instalment of dearness allowance payable to central government employees and dearness relief (DR) to central government pensioners due from January 1, 2020, shall not be paid.” Furthermore, the memo added, “The additional instalment of DA and DR due from July 1, 2020, and January 1, 2021, shall also not be paid.”

On Friday, the national council of the joint consultative machinery harshly criticized this move in a letter to the Cabinet Secretary. They lambasted the decision by saying that it will cause immense financial hardship to pensioners and is nothing short of drastic. The council demanded an immediate rollback of the decision.

The council didn’t leave out on highlighting the mental agony that employees, in the front-lines of the battle against COVID-19, would face if this decision isn’t reversed.

In the letter, the council’s general secretary Shiva Gopal Mishra wrote that the employees of central and state governments were the real warriors in the fight against the virus, with many of them “working in the field exposing themselves without sufficient PPE”. Hence, the move to freeze DA would cause mental agony to the employees, he wrote.

Additionally, he stated, “The constituent organisations of the national council are shocked to note the arbitrary decisions taken by the government to freeze DA. Before taking such a decision, the government has not bothered to consult the staff side of the council.”

The letter asked the government to be aware of the skyrocketing prices of essential commodities during the pandemic and cautioned about the repercussions of the decision.

The letter further added, “Railways employees are deployed in various activities such as track signalling and special trains transporting essential goods. Almost all departments are involved in activities during the lockdown. The ordinance factories are directly involved in manufacturing protective equipment. Ignoring all the contribution…the government is targeting them. Nearly 48 lakh central government employees and 65 lakh pensioners do not deserve such a treatment from the government.”

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