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Bring governance back on track within 100 days of resuming work, PMO tells ministries

The ministries are expected to get their full working staff above the rank of deputy secretary from 20 April onwards.

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New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has asked all Union ministries to complete the backlog of the Covid-19 lockdown within 100 days of resuming work, ThePrint has learnt.

The ministries are expected to get their full working staff above the rank of deputy secretary from 20 April onwards.

According to sources from several ministries, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has sent a communication to the departments, asking them to prepare priority lists for work that has suffered due to the lockdown, and complete them within 100 days.

“We have been given a maximum of 100 days to complete all pending work, and get the government functioning in order,” said a senior official who didn’t wish to be named.

“This applies to officials as well as ministers… The thinking in the government is that governance cannot be allowed to suffer more.”

The PMO spokesperson, Ravi Rama Krishnan, when reached for a comment, said while there was no formal or written communication from the PMO on this, the directive could have been routed through the DoPT, which also falls under the PMO.

ThePrint also reached PIB spokesperson Kuldeep Dhatwalia through phone call and text message, but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.

Although most ministries kept functioning remotely through e-office, and online platforms Zoom and WhatsApp, everything other than Covid-related work took a backseat to some extent, the official said. “Hundred days is a realistic timeline.”

All officers above the deputy secretary level in the central government have been asked to report to work after 20 April, the sources said. Starting this week, all government officers above the rank of joint secretary resumed office.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also told all Union ministers to ensure that efforts are made to get back to normalcy as soon as possible, even as norms of social distancing are followed strictly.

Also read: Modi govt now plans to rank ministries on how they implement direct benefit transfer scheme

‘Covid-19 became priority’

All the ministers in the Modi government have been carrying out weekly reviews of the ongoing work in each ministry through video conferencing, said a second official.

“So, in that sense, work did not quite stop… Even officials were coming whenever needed,” the official added on condition of anonymity. “It is just that Covid-related work became a priority for everyone.”

At the beginning of the 21-day lockdown imposed on 24 March, which has now been extended until 3 May, government officials were instructed to work from home as much as possible.

All senior officers in the ministries have since been either working from home or attending offices on staggered timings and rotations.

Meanwhile, most junior staff such as section officers and deputy secretaries are mostly working from home – which too could change after 20 April, according to sources.

However, there is no clarity yet on whether consultants attached to the central government, who too have been working from home since the lockdown, will be required to come to work after 20 April.

Also read: How India’s young IAS officers ensured a smooth lockdown in every corner of the country


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