50 employees test positive, Kothrud unit of Cummins India declared ‘corona hotspot’

Company unit was first beneficiary of 'vaccination at workplace' programme in city

The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) on Thursday declared the Kothrud unit of Cummins India Ltd as a ‘corona hotspot’ and issued directions to shut its operations for four days after 50 employees of the unit tested positive for coronavirus infection.

“The state government as well as the PMC has been issuing Covid-19 guidelines to be followed at the workplace, including manufacturing units of private companies. It is necessary to strictly follow the guidelines but it has been noticed that they are not being properly and completely implemented in your company premises, which has led to employees getting infected…,” said Sachin Tamkhade, incident commander and assistant municipal commissioner of Kothrud-Bavdhan ward office, in a letter to Cummins India Ltd, which is in the jurisdiction of the ward office.

Cummins India Ltd, however, said the company has adhered to all Covid-19 regulations and has “only 11 active Covid cases among 2000-plus employees”.

The PMC had earlier started a ‘vaccination at workplace’ programme at the Kothrud unit, and employees eligible for vaccination were inoculated in the campus over two days.

The Kothrud unit of Cummins India Ltd was the first private company to be the beneficiary of ‘vaccination at workplace’ programme. “The PMC had set up a two-day camp on the company premises on April 11, and 297 employees above 45 were inoculated,” said another civic officer. He said the camp was set up after following all the rules, such as the company having at least 100 eligible persons for vaccination.

Since the beginning of the pandemic last year, as many as 240 employees in Cummins India Ltd’s Kothrud unit – 20 per cent of its total strength — have been infected and three of them have succumbed to the infection.

“… there are 50 active cases of Covid-19 in the company now. It has been noticed that there is only one place for employees in the company to have their meal and all employees come together at this place, which is possibly the spot for the spread of the viral infection,” said Tamkhade.

Considering the large number of company employees getting infected with Covid-19, Tamkhade said, “The company premises has been declared as a ‘corona hotspot’.”

Accordingly, the Kothrud unit will be closed for four days, from May 20 to 23. “Rapid antigen test or RT-PCR test of all employees has to be done under control of ward medical officers and the reports should be submitted by May 22,” he said, adding that all the employees of the company will have to again undergo a Covid test in the next 10 days.

Cummins India has been asked to provide face shields to all employees and there is a complete ban on employees having their meals together in the canteen. The firm has also been urged to carry out vaccinations of employees as soon as possible and the premises as well as machines in the company have to be frequently sanitised.

“The company should strictly follow PMC’s directions or it will have to face serious action if any violation is found…,” said Tamkhade.

Meanwhile, the PMC has put a brake on its `vaccination at workplace’ programme due to shortage of vaccines in the city. “There are requests from around 200 organisations, government offices and private companies to set up vaccination camps on their premises. However, there has been no vaccination camp at the workplace for over a week now and no such camps have been scheduled due to shortage of vaccines,” said the officer.

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In a press statement, Cummins India Ltd stated that it has received the notice from PMC. “We have been closely monitoring the situation and would confirm that we have taken all precautionary and preventive steps for our employees or workers and adhered to all Covid-19 regulations stated by the government. We have conducted sanitisation and tests for our employees and workers and have shared the data with the municipality and government officials as per the protocol,” it said.

The plant has been closed for three days as advised by PMC Assistant Municipal Commissioner, said the statement, adding, “The surge in cases in the second wave has impacted the whole country in the last two months and compared with the positivity rate of Kothrud and Pune, we had very few cases at Cummins. Right now, since last week, we have found only 4 positive cases and we have only 11 active Covid cases as on date in the employee strength of 2000 plus employees. All these cases have been detected outside the workplace and due to everyday screening at the entry and exit, social distancing at the shop floors, common areas etc, there is very little possibility of infection at the workplace.”

“We had also conducted vaccination drives for our employees and contractors above 45… We have a daily self-screening app for all our employees where questions related Covid symptoms are asked before entering the premises. Daily thermal screening of all employees… and visitors before entering the premises and while going out of the premises is done. Mask distribution is done on a daily basis at the entry point for all employees, contract labourers and visitors,” it added.

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