Authorities flout rules to release salary
By Shafat Mir
Anantnag: The Mechanical Engineering Department Anantnag, entrusted with keeping major roads in the four districts under its jurisdiction motorable after snowfall, is finding itself under tremendous pressure as 17 of its Junior Engineers (JE) out of total strength of 31 are absconding from duty since the outbreak of uprising in July 2016.
All of the absconding JEs belong to the minority Pandit community and were appointed under Prime Minister’s Special Package for Return and Rehabilitation of Kashmiri Migrants to Kashmir valley.
“Around 18 of these JEs had fled the valley in July last year after the violence broke out and only one of them joined back his services. We sent out a formal explanation notice, MDA/Esst/ 5391-5413, dated 09-01-2017 but so far received no response from these employees”, said Executive Engineer, Mohammad Ismail Chichi, who is holding additional charge in Anantnag Division of MED.
According to the rules of their employment, under No.PW(R&B)NG/163/2010, in case the appointee migrates from Kashmir Valley at any time during their service tenure, “for any reason whatsoever, his/ her appointment/service shall stand terminated without any notice by itself by the action of his/her migration.”
A lower rung employee in the department said, “If we go by the rules their appointment stands terminated but instead the higher ups have directed the officials to go lenient in their cases. Our employees in the entire four districts of Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian under the jurisdiction of this division have been directed to remain stationed for the last five days in shabby conditions while as our brethren are enjoying the sunshine in Jammu and drawing salaries without discharging their duties.”
Officials, however, said that despite the dearth of the specialized staff the department had cleared most of the roads in all the four districts.
“Our 150 personnel from the operations staff are currently on ground and clearing vital routes in all the four districts. It is because of their efforts the road connectivity has been restored and also it is physically not possible to clear the whole stretch of 2300 kilometers, under my command, in one go”, Chichi said.
The Executive Engineer was supposed to provide the attendance certificate of these engineers but sources said the intervention of Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmed Khan got their salaries cleared.
Chichi refused to comment on the fate of these migrant employees.
“It is not under my authority to decide the future course of action. It is up to the government to decide whether they want to retain these people or not. My job was to seek a formal explanation, which I did.”