Contrary to the Punjab government’s claims to introduce reforms in the government and make the bureaucracy responsible, the Phagwara sub division of Kapurthala district has witnessed nine subdivisional magistrates (SDMs) in the past 11 months.
In this sub-division, which has the industry-rich Phagwara town in its territory, the average stay of the SDM has been found to be 35 days in the past 11 months, resulting in great inconvenience to the public at large.
The latest posting of the SDM here was done on July 29 with the state government posting a 2012 batch IAS officer, Keshav Hongam, replacing PCS officer Amarjeet Singh, who remained in office here only for 13 days from July 16 to July 29.
In the past one year, Parminderpal Singh was the only PCS officer who managed to stay as the SDM for 55 days which is the maximum tenure by any officer on this post.
Even though these transfers have been done on administrative grounds, sources say it is the local leadership’s pressure that always works behind the shifting of SDMs from this subdivision.
Sources in the SDM office disclosed that a lot of work, including the redressal of cases by conducting court, had been pending in the subdivision since long because of the reshuffle.
“Whenever any SDM joins here, he takes a few days to get settled and the moment he gets settled, the state government orders the transfer. The general public can be seen asking for the whereabouts of the previous SDM. The office functioning has also been hit as the staff knows the new officer will take time to adjust,” said a senior staff member from the Phagwara SDM office. The SDMs are generally given posting for a long period at a station so as to serve the people well since the sub-division office is the most crucial authority at the grassroots level.
When questioned over the issue, deputy commissioner of Kapurthala, DS Mangat, cited frequent change of SDMs as a mere coincidence.
“Actually, a few officers were transferred in routine whereas one retired and another moved on medical leave. We are hopeful that the new SDM will get ample time to serve the people of Phagwara now,” said the DC.
Phawara MLA and chief parliamentary secretary, Som Parkash, denied any political interference in the transfers. “Even I am concerned over the issue as the continuous transfers are hitting the public at large. I will take up the matter with the chief minister and urge him to ensure longer stay of the officials as SDM,” he said.