- Tens of thousands engaged despite 1994 ban; now faces issue of regularising them
SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir government has flouted its own order, passed in April 1994, banning the engagement of daily wage workers. The government has since then engaged about 61,000 such workers.
According to official data, over these years, these workers have been engaged in 37 departments; with the Irrigation and Flood Control Department leading the pack with 23,711 workers, followed by the Forest Department at 7,117 and the Power Development Department, 4,580.
The government order (no 26-fof of 1994) had imposed a complete ban on the engagement of such workers in the state. Officially, the government has no policy to regularise such workers, but it is apparently planning to constitute a committee in order to prepare a roadmap for their regularisation.
In fact, around 6,000 National Youth Corps are on hunger strike for the last 47 days demanding regularisation. Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu had earlier told Kashmir Reader that the government has maintained status quo on the issue. But he had also reportedly told the striking NYC workers that their issue might be taken up in the next cabinet meeting, scheduled for October 19, but only if the relevant file was put up by the Education Department.
Compounding the issue, the government had also enacted an SRO-64 on March 24, 1994, to regularise daily wagers who had been engaged prior to 1994, however some of them are yet to be regularised. As per government information, many of them have even crossed the upper age limit prescribed for permanent recruitment. And the Finance department is yet to decide on their age relaxation, though the issue has been brought to its notice.
The other departments where these workers were engaged include the Agriculture Production Department (3,897), Housing and Urban Development Department (3,922), Higher Education Department (1,889), Tourism Art and Culture Department (1,770), Health and Medical Education Department (3,163), Animal and Sheep Husbandry Department (1,801), Estates Department (494), Planning and Development Department (55), Finance Department (48), and the General Administration Department (7).
Only eight departments – the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, Home, Relief and Rehabilitation, Education, Labour and Employment, Co-operative, Transport and Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution – have not absorbed any daily wagers during the past 21 years.