People of UT of J&K have great and immediate expectations from A.K Mehta, new Chief Secretary UT of J&K who is at present Sr. most IAS cadre officer of erstwhile J&K State posted in J&K while other four senior to him are on Centre deputation. So, J&K today has a senior local cadre IAS officer as Chief Secretary who has served in J&K during the BJP-PDP Govt., Governor Rule/President rule from 18-06-2018 to 30-10- 2019 and President Rule in UT of J&K since 31-10-2019 with last posting as Financial Commissioner Finance Deptt.No doubt whenever there is change in a politically elected government, or there is change in a Governor / LG of a State/ UT under president rule or there is a change at the level of even Chief Secretary ( particularly after the same had remained in speculations for quite some time ) the people start expecting something good to happen as regards the delivery of services and governance if not immediate leaps in developments through added capital expenditures. No doubt the new Chief Minister /Governor /LG/CS too give assurances for zero tolerance on corruption/ bad delivery of public services. But how far they succeed has mostly remained debateable.
There are many challenges before new Chief Secretary but one challenge that is of great common cause is that of seeing to and ensuring easy, prompt and in routine public services for which the human resource elements of the Government Public Services Infrastructure is the most important and the first operative tool of the Government. Handling fairly and promptly the personnel affairs/service matters of the government employees surely adds to their commitment, zeal and efficiency, where as the position in that regard is very disappointing in UT of J&K and so even sincere/ truthful government employees in their sub conscious mind remain discouraged due to even routine service matters remaining uncertain/ unresolved for years (in cases even after 10 years of retirement of some who had worked as even as I/C Chief Engineer). And the targets set by a Chief Minister/Governor/LG in ensuring maximum governance with minimum government to get adversely affected.To be brief in the present system all the policy matters/ administrative requirements (even as regards non gazetted posts) pertaining to human resources of all field departments are in a way authoritatively handled by the Administrative Departments located in the Civil Secretariate. May be since most of the Administrative Department are headed either by a Financial Commissioner or a Principal Secretary or a Commissioner (occasionally a Secretary) with no any officer of next junior rank there to assist with isolated authority the officers heading the Administrative Department remains unduly loaded.So the new Chief Secretary who himself well knows the state of affairs should as way forward to good governance must first ensure that the working in the respective Administrative Departments is first streamlined as regards the administrative / personnel affairs pertaining to field departments so the government programmes are executed with improved zeal and efficiency which is otherwise also required under the corona pandemic inflated requirement of public services. On date the Health Departments and Engineering Departments are in a way first direct / indirect corona warriors who are extending health care, regular water supply / power supply / infra maintenance risking their own person.To quote and to start with the new Chief Secretary who is also Chairman of the Establishment cum Selection Committee can attend to requirements of J&K H & ME Department and J&K PDD where there exist immediate need for ending the ‘Adhocism’ and loose handling of the human resources/ management even at the senior level.To quote the Department of Surgery of Government Medical College Jammu is without a regular fulltime Head of Department Surgery after 28-04-2020 though the department has Professor (Incharge Professor) level and senior faculty ( as also clearly reflects from order NO. 443-Jk-(HME) of 2020 Dated 15-05-2020 issued under the signatures of FC H&ME ). At occasions for proper conduct of departmental operations in JMC even Asstt. Professors in some departments had been designated as HoDs. Not only that it was on 12-04-2021 that Under Secretary in H&ME Department vide ME/Gaz-42/2021conveyed directions to Principal Medical College Jammu to give charge of the HoD of Surgery Department even to a HoD of another department (Professor and Head, Department of CVTS) where as such decision should have been taken by Principal Medical College at her level. One can well imagine the bad state of affairs in very important department of General Surgery about which some videos too have gone viral on social media ( one on 07-05-2021 about a patient from Rajouri) depicting the status working. It has also been learnt that the said Dr, HoD CVTS I/C Hod Surgery who is taking load of two important departments inspite of difficult physical health status applied for 6 weeks leave ( to undergo Lumber Disc Surgery at IBS since his having BDS system in place which requires monitoring and Neuro Modulation during procedure by a Neuro Surgeon ) w.e.f 15-06-2021 vide letter HoD/Surg/2021/118 Dated 07-06-2021 addressed to Principal GMC Jammu also informing her that during his absence two professors in the Surgery department will look after the routine work, in a way Dr. Noor Ali ‘carrying’ the charge of post of HoD Surgery with him even while on leave where as such decision should have been left to Principal. The then Principal GMCJ Dr Nasib Chand Digra too had on 12-09-2020 gone to the extent of submitting an application to LG J&K wherein he had talked of even taking VRS in view of the working environment in the H&ME department as well as had also given his opinion regarding giving the charge of HoD to a senior professor in Surgery since the department was suffering ( Dr. Digra was on verge of retirement and he was transferred on 21-10-2020 to work as Secretary ( technical) in Secretariat but to k draw salary against the post of PGMCJ).Chief Secretary can ‘read’ much more from such like references for corrections needed in H&ME.Similarly no doubt the then Governor J&K Satya Pal Malik did take notice of the reports on the adhocism in J&K PDD and it was on 22-10-2019 that State Administrative Council ( SAC ) directed that Establishment cum Selection Committee should decide the pending cases of promotions of I/C Officers of PDD ( surely the focus appeared to be more on cases atleast of those already retired) by 30-11-2019 even bypassing involvement of PSC as one time exception but what was to be put in practice in 40 days is no where in the sight even after more than 19 months and many who retired as I/C Chief engineers are still drawing pension as AEE even after 8 to 10 years after retirement. Such type of ‘treatment’ given to an order of SAC speaks well of the ‘seriousness’ with what the Administrative Departmentsmay be working.. Not only that Government of J&K taking leads from the order passed in the matter of writ petition WP(Civil) No. 94612020, titled Ghulam Hassan Rather v/s UT of J&K has constituted a Group of Officers vide G.O No:1172-JK (GAD) of 2020 of 31.12.2020 ( Adm. Secretaries of Finance , PW/R&B), GAD ,ARI & Trainings , and Law /Justice & Parliamentary Affairs as members ). to propose a way forward /roadmap for stopping the practice of making adhoc promotions in Government Departments within a period of 4 weeks. J&K HC Srinagar Bench while passing order at para 21 had said in reference to adhocism in J&K government services as regards promotions <“, this court would like to seek comments from the government as to how this system can be put to an end and all recruitments and promotions are made strictly in terms of the Rules governing the post and not I/c basis?>. The “Group of Officers” was supposed to submit the report by about 28–01-2021 and status is not known even 4 months after that instead I/C promotions are still being made.That means very serious surgical reformatic measures will have to be taken. Even etablishing a human resources wing department wise under a Secretary level officer ( with delegated authority too) may be the first needed step towards reforms like Maximum Governance with minimum government.(Daya Sagar – Sr Journalist, Analyst J&K affairs, Social Activist [email protected]).
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