Even as the engineers of the Chandigarh municipal corporation (MC) have raised the issue of staff shortage and lack of powers before sub-divisional magistrate Prince Dhawan at a meeting recently, UT adviser Vijay Dev said "it is a myth and they just shirk work".
Even during the meeting, when SDM asked municipal engineers to give their best to maintain basic amenities in the city, they said: "We cannot perform better in the absence of power and acute shortage of staff."
Regular vacancies in all departments had been casting a shadow on the pace of the development in the city.
General secretary of the MC Engineers' Association Angrej Singh said: "It is almost one year that the public health wing of the MC is functioning without a superintending engineer. There is shortage of nine sub-divisional engineers and 20 junior engineers at the supervisory level. How can the authorities expect us to perform better without staff? he questioned.
Suresh Saini, executive engineer, public health department, said: "The executive engineers and sub-divisional officers don't have financial powers. Under the non-plan head, an executive engineer can only allot the work up to Rs 1 lakh, while a sub-divisional engineer can call for quotation up to Rs 40,000."
Jangsher Singh, sub-divisional engineer of the horticulture department said: "Since 1996, we have one division and five sub-divisional engineers and 10 junior engineers to maintain the entire city. We have to maintain greenbelts, neighbourhood parks and we have been asked clean the vacant areas, which was earlier maintained by department of buildings and roads."
Even the buildings and roads department officials have complained of shortage of machinery, which is making it difficult for them to re-carpet roads.
On other hand, nominated councillor Surinder Bahga said: "I agree that there is shortage of staff but most of the MC works have been outsourced. The MC has failed to appoint sub-divisional engineers even as applications were invited twice in the past six years. Additional charges of the sub-divisional engineers have been given to junior engineers against the direct posts. Even some of them are having dual charge of two subdivisions and they do not concentrate of any subdivision."
MC FAILS TO RECRUIT 600 EMPLOYEES
Despite severe staff shortage, the civic body has failed to start the recruitment process for 600 posts lying vacant in various departments, which were already sanctioned by the UT administration around two years back.
WHAT MC RECORDS SAY?
Two years ago, the civic body had prepared a proposal for the recruitment of more than 2,000 employees which was then sent to the UT administration. After numerous rounds of discussions, no final decision was taken.
NO ACTION EVEN AFTER FIVE YEARS
Five years ago, the MC had invited applications for recruitment for direct posts of the public health and bridges and roads departments, but no action has been taken to date.
310: Sanitation department (medical officer of health)
125: Clerks in various departments of civic body
30: Fire department
30: Sub-divisional officers in various departments
20: Junior engineers in various departments
Posts lying vacant
535: Public health department
314: Bridges and roads department
691: Medical officer of health
362: Fire department