Last month, both Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle and Cabinet minister Shivpal lambasted the engineers in various government departments saying “they will continue to do what they have been doing” and “no amount of disciplining would help” if they don’t have honesty in their hearts.
Nothing could have been more ironical for about 300 junior engineers (JEs) who have not been assigned any work by the state government in the past over 10 years, but have been drawing salary.
Such is the condition of these JEs — many of them claim that they are in a state of depression for constantly sitting idle in their offices along with the staff — that they have now approached the state government asking to be assigned some work or transfer to other departments where they can be utilised.
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All these engineers are from electrical and mechanical sections of public works department (PWD), of which Shivpal is in-charge.
“They should perform,” Shivpal had said while warning the engineers that he has “disciplined” many and if they do not improve they may face FIRs and jail.
While demanding work, the JEs have cited that most of machinery, plants and road construction vehicles are lying dumped in various districts while the work is being outsourced to private contractors leaving them idle.
Diploma Engineers Association, the apex body of JEs in PWD, has written to the chief secretary for absorbing them in other departments where they are “assigned some work”. The association claimed that work is “being outsourced as it is lucrative for senior officials but results in poor quality”.
Engineer in chief, PWD, A K Gupta stated that the “situation” is not new. “The situation is same for past several years. We have received a proposal from their association for absorbing these JEs in other stream. The proposal will be considered on merit,” Gupta said.
On the engineers’ allegations that work was being outsourced to private contractors, he said, “Such a situation is prevailing for quite some time”.
PWD has the maximum 5,341 JEs, including 4,176 in civil section, and 467 in technical stream —- who have been assigned more work than they can effectively handle. Another 322 JEs in electrical and 385 in mechanical sections have little or virtually no work. “Half of them have been given some work in big cities while 350 JEs posted in districts have no work. They are sitting idle for past one decade and drawing salaries,” Harikishore Tiwari, president, Engineers’ Association, told The Indian Express.
Normally, these electrical and mechanical engineers are responsible for running and maintenance of hot mix plant, cement mixture plant, running of road rollers, tippers, truck, tractors and other equipment. As per official PWD figures, none of its 24 hot mix plants is running to full capacity. Plants at Etawah, Gonda, Bhadohi have zero per cent utilisation. All the 12 cement concrete mixture plants set up during Mayawati regime are lying idle along with truck trail mixture and pavers. “Most of the machines in these CC plants are yet to get functional and are still lying wrapped in protective covering,” Tiwari claimed.
The anomaly had first come to light in 2001 when state government had roped in Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) for presenting a report on the situation. The TCS recommended that new recruitments in these streams should be stopped, machines should be disposed off and staff adjusted in other government bodies. The government acted immediately and 20 such JEs were imparted six-month training and absorbed in other departments. But, later this exercise was discontinued.
“In spite of TCS suggestion to stop new appointments, PWD has appointed 103 JEs against vacancies since then. The engineers are sitting idle along with their staff drivers, cleaners and other staff in every district,” Tiwari claimed.
Many government orders have been issued during past 15 years where senior engineers have been directed to utilise the services of these engineers so that they can do some work to least justify their salary. It was also directed that loss of government money will be realised from senior engineers’ salary if instructions were not followed. None of the orders were adhered to, added Tiwari.
Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan confirmed that the issue came for discussion with engineers.
“During the meeting we took it up seriously and I have issued instructions to adjust these engineers. They should be given work for utilisation of their services. I will again check about the progress and it will be settled soon,” said Ranjan.