Bureaucrats in Mantralaya are an unhappy lot these days because of restrictions imposed on their touring.
They say they cannot leave the headquarters, even in an emergency, without seeking the chief secretary’s approval.
Chief Secretary J.P. Dange has said all bureaucrats wanting to travel out of the state headquarters need his permission.
His diktat applies to all Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers, who work in Mantralaya and in the field. He had earlier made prior approvals mandatory for foreign tours. Of late, he has been insisting on clearing officers’ domestic tours too.
Before these directives, bureaucrats would plan tours on their own, sometimes even without informing the chief secretary (CS), who is their boss. They now find the compulsion to get their trips sanctioned by him as a violation of their freedom. They are complaining that they are unable to go out and assess the progress of projects on the ground.
“We don’t mind seeking approval for foreign tours, but we need to take the CS’s approval even for visiting districts,” said a principal secretary requesting anonymity. “This is ridiculous.” Many other officers shared the sentiment.
Dange, however, justified the directives. “I’m trying to streamline the administration. It’s good for governance. If officers leave headquarters without informing my office, how can I contact them if there is an emergency that concerns their departments?” he told Hindustan Times.
Bureaucrats are not convinced.
These officials have to frequent districts they are made guardian secretaries of and supervise the work of their junior officers such as district collectors.
They work in association with the district guardian ministers. Dange said officers are advised against travelling when the Legislature is in session and when weekly Cabinet meetings are scheduled.
“Officers’ absence in meetings where decisions are to taken is bound to affect their departments’ work,” Dange said.
“They can leave the headquarters provided they inform my office and seek proper approval.”