7 yrs on, highly qualified POs in RDD remain deprived of TA, HRA, mobility; fume over govt apathy

ESS AHMAD. Dated: 7/5/2020 12:27:04 AM

SRINAGAR, July 4: In 2013, the government invited applications for the engagement of program officers in rural development department (RDD) on contractual basis for the proper implementation of the central sponsored scheme MNREGA on contractual basis.
Hundreds of highly qualified youth applied for the posts. Though the eligibility for the said posts was a Masters degree in any subject but the priority was given to those having Masters in Business Administration (MBA).
At the time of engagement these appointees were promised 7000 rupees mobility, travel allowances and HRA besides 20000 basic salary. Most of them left their well salaried jobs in private sector and joined as program officers in RDD.
However, seven years after their appointment in the department, these highly qualified program officers remain deprived of all the allowances they were supposed to be provided under the norms of the scheme.
Though, the mobility allowance of Rs 7000 was given to them for few years but for last three years that too was suddenly stopped.
"We are now working against the meagre amount of Rs 20000 a month. No allowances are being paid to us. Irony is that the authorities even stopped paying the mobility allowance of 7000 rupees to us three years ago," said a delegation of these aggrieved POs.
Program officers as per the scheme are entitled to all those allowances being paid to BDOs. They are supposed to carry out survey in the villages of their respective Panchayat blocks, prepare the estimate of developmental works and supervise their execution and create awareness among the unemployed educated youth and labour class in the villages about the benefits of the scheme. Since the outbreak of Covid 19, these POs are busy creating awareness among the people and distributing masks among the poor people in the villages of their respective blocks.
"We are supposed to reach even the far off villages of our respective blocks to supervise various developmental works. Major portion of our salaries get consumed on our travel but irony is that the authorities here in brazen violation of the norms of the scheme continue to deny us the travel allowance. What is more ironical is that even the mobility allowance of 7000 rupees was suddenly stopped to us," the aggrieved POs told Kashmir Times.
Most of these POs are now regretting their decision of leaving the private sector jobs and joining the government sector.
"Most of us with MBA degrees were getting good salaries in private sector. But we left the private sector jobs as we were lured by the allowances mentioned in the notification but now we regret our decision. We are giving our blood and sweat to serve the department but our efforts are not appreciated by the people at helm. Even the BDOs want to diminish our role," said a program officer working in a Panchayat block in Anantnag.
Director Panchayat Raj, Qazi Sarwar said that releasing mobility and other allowances is actually the decision of the government.
"But they have not come up with any such grievance to me. If they have any grievance let them put up a representation and I will take up the issue with the top authorities," Director said.



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