Sunday, January 5, 2014

LG Writes to Home Minister on Domicile Issue

LG Writes to Home Minister on Domicile Issue
Proposes Preferential Treatment to Local People in Recruitment
Seeks Guidance on Modalities from Ministry of Home Affairs

By Zubair Ahmed

Since the notification of 422 posts in Education Dept by Andaman and Nicobar Administration, there has been huge outpouring of people's anguish over candidates from mainland applying for the posts. Irrespective of political parties, local associations, unemployed youth fronts and the member of parliament, everyone has taken up the issue and is engaged in organising demonstrations, making representations and venting their anger through different channels.

In response, the Lieutenant Governor has been making statements in various forums that the ANI Administration is seriously concerned about the predicament and will leave no stone unturned to address this issue and take up the matter with the Ministry of Home Affairs and work out a viable solution which can stand legal and administrative scrutiny.

In a communication, DO No. 45-323(1)/2012-PW dated 14-12-2013, addressed to the Home Minister, the Lieutenant Governor has apprised MHA about the need for protecting the interests of the Islanders in employment.

Citing the existing arrangement, the UT of Daman and Diu has, the ANI Administration too has proposed to give preference/weightage to local people in direct recruitment in respect of Group 'C' and 'B' (non-gazetted posts) in terms of a letter of MHA dated October 14, 2013 issued to the UT of Daman and Diu. The Admn has also sought guidance of MHA on the modalities for giving such weightage/preference to local people, within the rules.

In the letter, the Administrator writes about "the deepest concern about the lack of job opportunities for the educated youth of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the resultant sense of acute despair and despondency amongst them."

Enlightening the Home Minister about the remoteness of the Island territory, he writes that "the Andaman and Nicobar Group of Islands are located in the Bay of Bengal nearly 1200 kms from Chennai and Kolkata. The people of these Islands reside in 37 islands extending over an area of more than 700 kms. The geographical location of the Islands makes it very difficult for young educated people to pursue job opportunities in the public and private sectors on the mainland. Moreover, a major part of these Islands - approximately 94% - is covered under forest (reserved as well as deemed) and there is very little manufacturing, entrepreneurial or service sector industry here. Our physical remoteness and the strategic importance of these Islands has further compounded the problems we are facing following the closure of the timber industry, the introduction of stringent provisions under environment and forest laws, the absence of a University or Medical College and also very poor connectivity in all areas, be it air, shipping or internet."

He further adds, "We, therefore, find ourselves in a position where the employment opportunities have shrunk enormously over the past few years. This has created an extremely adverse psychological condition amongst the people here."

"The situation has reached a stage where there is a huge outpouring of the people's anguish at all levels and in all forums, be it the media, through rallies, agitations/dharnas and other means. We are extremely conscious of the fact that this anguish should not be allowed to change to anger."

About the prevailing unemployment status, he writes, "As on date, we have 41003 registered unemployed youth in these Islands which inter alia includes Graduates, Post Graduates and technically qualified persons. Such numbers, though not very high from a national point of view, actually constitute a significant proportion (aged 18-60) of these Islands which is approximately 2,35,610."

Suggesting a way out of the precarious situation, the Administrator wrote, "Under these circumstances, one of the ways to improve job opportunities for the Islanders is to allow preferential treatment to them in matters of employment to Group 'C' and Group 'B' posts in the Andaman and Nicobar Administration. Actually, such a preferential treatment was available to them earlier until the situation was reversed by a Supreme Court judgment in 1992 which maintained that requirement of being a local candidate for appointment to the Government posts in Andaman and Nicobar Administration is violative of the constitutional provisions and only a law made by the Parliament can provide for such a restriction or requirement."

He also suggests that preference should be given in Group 'C' posts and Group 'B' posts in Andaman and Nicobar Administration to the youth of these Islands.

Referring to the existing arrangement in the UT of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli, he further suggests, "It would not be out of context to mention that such a preferential treatment to the local candidates has been allowed in the case of Administration of Union Territory of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli and since the circumstances here are more difficult, a special dispensation in the case of Andaman and Nicobar Administration is absolutely essential.

The Administration has also attached a copy of letter No. U-14014/38/2012-CPD dated October 14, 2013 from the Deputy Secretary (ANL), Ministry of Home Affairs to the Administrator, UT Administration of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli in this regard.

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