ONGC worst hit by Covid but others suffer too

Vol 24, PW 12 (06 May 21) People & Policy

After Sagar Ratna and Sagar Kiran, we now hear ONGC suspended operations for three days on April 26 at company-owned jack-up Sagar Uday because 36 people onboard tested positive for Covid-19.

As you'd expect, ONGC disinfected and sanitised the rig with chemicals over three days before allowing workers back on board. "We are following all Covid-19 protocols," stresses a source at ONGC labour union Karmachari Sanghatana.

"When the new crew change is due, we arrange a hotel stay for five days before they board the rig. After five days, we test employees and contract workers before letting them back on the rig.

But still, our employees are testing positive." At ONGC's Heera platform, 81 people, including contract workers, tested positive.

"But we can't shut the platform," he adds. "Because it is a production platform and even with a bare minimum workforce, we must maintain oil production."

More than 200 people in total have tested positive at ONGC rigs, installations, and offices in Mumbai, we hear. And the numbers continue to mount, with approximately 50 employees reported dead because of Covid-19 over the past year.

"Every location is affected this time (during the second wave)," adds the source. "Even smaller locations are affected."

Not just ONGC, other state-owned oil companies are also under pressure. "Around five or six people have died because of Covid-19 at our organisation (during the second wave)," says a GAIL source.

"I can't tell you the exact number who are positive, but most of our offices in Delhi and elsewhere are running with only a few people coming in for coordination work and arranging hospital beds, oxygen and medicines." All GAIL offices are running at 40% staff, with the rest working from home, he adds.