Wednesday, November 14, 2012



Order No. 790: NIGHTMARE?

By Staff Reporter

Majority of the Panchayati Raj Institution's representatives may not remember their house number but the number 790 comes on their lips with great regularity. Order No. 790 dated 29 October 2010 of the Administration regarding rearrangement of existing posts of Engineering/ Technical staffs of PRIs gives them unwarranted nightmares on being left without any control over their engineers. There is not much to this order but our PRIs dwell at length about it and consult innumerable experts for suggestions to thwart it. Breaking party lines in unison our PRIs have expressed concern about it and even approached their respective political bosses for a solution. Several petitions were developed and court cases planned but none have seen light of the day. This is the effect of spell our longest serving Administrator holds over them.
A blue eyed boy of the Admn A Neduncheziyan, ex-Additional Secretary cum Director RD, PRI's & ULB's, A&N Admn along with his coterie of experts from various fields' drafted order No. 790. He succeeded where many others failed including a now retired lady Jt. Secretary and a few Secretaries (Panchayats) of the Administration. He drafted another nightmare for the PRI's in the form of a notification on Grant-in-Aid to Panchayati Raj Institutions (Amendment) Rules, 2012 with the help of the same coterie of experts. He was given an assignment to cleanse the rot in the system. He was not here to make the Panchayats work, but whatever they do; they need to do it diligently with utmost accountability was his stand. From his coterie of co- drafters of 790 is a benefactor for whom another power centre has been created in the form of Executive Engineer (PRI). The palatial EE (PRI) office renovation misendeavours at Junglighat were overlooked by him citing CPWD manual. His approach was in creating safeguards for govt. servants who end up getting their service records tarnished while the elected representatives go scot free in cases of misappropriation.  Despite unwarranted nightmares he was accorded best possible farewell by the PRI's on his transfer with no dearth of superlatives showered upon him. Neduncheziyan had left these Islands reluctantly as he had hoped for a longer stay because of the love and affection he extracted from the PRI's on account of new found power he wielded. 
Prior to 790, order No. 560 came about in 2001 with the view to strengthen the PRI's by creation of posts for Engineering/Technical staff. This followed framing of recruitment rules by the Administrator in 2001 and 2003 where the senior posts were filled up by transfer or deputation from APWD and junior posts were filled by direct recruitment by Zilla Parishad. Eventually the system disrupted following litigations lead by some power hungry politicians and technocrats who have started misusing these institutions. Engineers turned power brokers started calling the shots at the Zilla Parishad with entire PRI's at their mercy. The Zilla Parishad was on a collision course with the Administration necessitating a move by the Administration to rescind the recruitment rule of 2001 and 2003 by merging all the post of Engineering/Technical staff of Zilla Parishad with APWD in 26 Dec 2008. This created a fear Psychosis among the junior technical staff about their seniority and future prospects who contributed towards legal expenses. This was stayed by Calcutta High court within a matter of days on 07 Jan 2009 led by the powerful Zilla Parishad Engineering lobby of that time. Status quo was maintained on service related matters.
In came NABARD Consultancy evaluation report which exposed the gaping holes in the delivery mechanisms and flouting of rules by all powerful Engineering wing of the Zilla Parishad and PRI's. The third Finance Commission report also recommended that each tier of Panchayat should function independently for better deliverability of services to the masses. This presumably necessitated the need for order No.790 in 2010 making the Engineering staff accountable to their Panchayat Secretaries/Executive officers and Chief Executive officer for Gram Panchayat, Panchayat Samiti and the Zilla Parishad respectively. The elected representatives felt helpless for assuming not to have any say in the functioning of the Engineering staff. PRI's can still call all the shots provided their intentions are clear. The whole plan of works is proposed by them. Funds are allocated for these works by them and no payments are issued without their signatures. The schedule of rates issue to cut out delays in execution of projects by EE (PRI) has been sorted to an extent with the AE at Samiti level being granted power within his limit in a recent meeting held on 28 July 2012 by the Administrator. PRI's need to think out of the box and not fall into traps laid down by the once powerful and now side-lined Zilla Parishad engineering bosses. Institutions cannot be dependent on particular individuals for delivering performance.   

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