A Ram Kumar, a former section officer in the Municipal Administration and Urban Development (MA&UD) department of the Government of Telangana, often hangs around in the secretariat to meet his old colleagues, sometimes even to borrow some money. Ram Kumar is one of 24 section officers in the erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh government who have been left in a lurch and without salaries since four months. Reason: after the bifurcation of the state, while the Telangana government relieved them on January 1 this year, the new Andhra Pradesh government has rejected their allotment, saying they were “in excess”.
All 24 of them, who live in Hyderabad and used to work in the united AP Secretariat, are originally from regions in the new state of Andhra Pradesh and had opted to join the AP government post bifurcation. According to the AP Reorganisation Act and recommendations of the C R Kamalnathan Committee, the employees were redistributed at a 52:48 per cent ratio based on the population of both states. However, after the division of employees, these 24 section officers were found to be “in excess” by the AP Government.
“Instead of accommodating us, the AP government wrote to the Telangana government, saying it should take us back. But after relieving us, the Telangana government promoted 24 employees as section officers in our positions, and said we couldn’t be taken back. On paper, we are still government employees but without jobs and salaries and without a government,” says Ram Kumar.
The 24 section officers say that though they knew “there could be problems”, they opted for Andhra Pradesh only after assurances were given to them during meetings with members of the Kamalnathan Committee where former Chief Secretaries of AP and Telangana, S P Tucker and Rajiv Sharma, were present.
“The Andhra Pradesh government had assured us that even if there was excess staff, they would accommodate us but after we were relieved by Telangana, they went back on their word. Every month we go twice or thrice to the AP Secretariat at Velagapudi (a five-hour ride away) to plead our case but everyone brushes us off. We are also urging the Telangana government to take us back,” says C Srinivas, another of the 24 officers.
“There are no existing vacancies at all for section officers in AP Government, so we could not take them and asked them to go back to Telangana,” said AP Minister for Information and Public Relations Kalava Srinivasulu. On July 5, AP Chief Secretary Dinesh Kumar wrote to his Telangana counterpart, S P Singh, expressing the AP government’s inability to take the 24 officers on its rolls and requested Telangana to take them and also pay their pending salaries.
“We have already promoted Telangana-origin Assistant Section Officers as SOs in place of the 24 employees who have been relieved. We cannot take them back now. AP agreed to take them and is now pushing them back to us,” said a Telangana official in the Chief Minister’s Office.
Their case has divided the employees’ unions at Telangana Secretariat. “If natives of Andhra Pradesh continue to work in the Telangana Secretariat or in the government, what is the purpose of having a separate Telangana state? We fought for a separate state because in united AP, Telangana people were neglected and ignored and all government jobs were cornered by people from AP. Why should Telangana now accommodate Andhra natives who opted to work in Andhra Pradesh?” said K Ravinder Reddy, president of the Telangana Non-Gazetted Officers (TNGOs) Union .
However, a meeting of the TNGOs Union at the Telangana Secretariat recently to demand that the Telangana Government should not take back the 24 officials, was disrupted by the Secretariat Telangana Employees Association. “When there is a separate association to take up issues regarding Secretariat staff, what is the need for TNGOs Union to interfere and hold meetings on the 24 section officers? We are also against any attempt by the Telangana government to take back the 24 SOs but we will take up the issue on our own,” said Secretariat Employees president Narender Rao.
This prompted the TNGOs Union to accuse the Telangana Employees Association of being sympathetic to the Andhra employees and trying to help them to get back their jobs.