More than a year after they were suspended following Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadavs first field inspection at Lakhimpur Khiri,five Dalit engineers in Irrigation Department are awaiting outcome of the inquiry. One of them has not even been chargesheeted.
Under rules,a chargesheet is served on a suspended official within three months and the inquiry is completed within six months.
The CMs inspection visit to the Sharda Barrage in Lakhimpur Khiri on April 4 last year resulted in the suspension of six engineers. All of them were Dalit and included Jaipal Singh who was engineer-in-chief of Irrigation,chief engineer Awadhu Ram,superintending engineer Lotu Ram and executive engineers Bharat Ram,Yogesh Rawat and Ram Nayan.
During the inspection,Irrigation Minister Shivpal Yadav,Revenue Minister Ambika Choudhary,Chief Secretary Jawed Usmani,the then Principal Secretary of Irrigation K S Atoria and even Jaipal Singh accompanied Akhilesh.
As soon as Akhilesh returned to Lucknow,Shivpal issued suspension orders of these engineers,charging them with laxity in work and large-scale irregularities in desilting of the Sharda river.
These six suspended engineers were attached to the Irrigation headquarters in Lucknow,but the department forgot to initiate proceedings against them. After waiting for a few months,the engineers asked for the chargesheets.
On August 7,after four months,five of the engineers were given chargesheets when under rules,it should had been served within three months but there was deliberate delay by the department, said Awadhu Ram. The five engineers submitted their individual replies on September 10.
Singh was reinstated on December 5. I submitted my reply on 10 September last year. After eight months of my suspension,I was reinstated. Others are still suspended, he said.
Meanwhile,Rawat has not even been served a chargesheet. I cannot do anything,I approached the department but I found myself helpless, Rawat stated.
The suspended engineers have submitted representations for their reinstatement. We gave at least five letters to the department and also to the government,but no action has been taken, Awadhu Ram said.
They also approached Deepak Singhal,Principal Secretary of Irrigation. Since I am the seniormost,I led them to meet the principal secretary on April 3 when it was one year of our suspension. We waited for nearly two hours but could not meet him and the orderly informed us that we should contact Irrigation secretary, Awadhu Ram added.
The Irrigation secretary told them that the government is considering a general pardon for all engineers who have completed six months under suspension,Awadhu Ram informed.
Under rules,suspension of government officials is done only when there is sufficient proof,after conducting a preliminary enquiry,for major punishment. During the suspension period,an employee is given 50 per cent salary as sustenance allowance which is increased to 75 per cent after six months. The suspended employee is given a chargesheet within three months and the inquiry officer should complete his probe within six months of suspension.
We are still getting 50 per cent of the salary as sustenance allowance. The inquiry is going on and we have never been asked to report personally for the inquiry in the last one year, Awadhu Ram said.
Irrigation Secretary S P Goyal said: We are of the opinion that engineers who have been cleared should be reinstated. The process has started and soon they will be reinstated. It took time as there is lengthy departmental process. But we firmly believe that they should be reinstated. It will be done soon.