Angered by the delay in promotions by the Punjab animal husbandry department, veterinary doctors in Tarn Taran are up in arms against the state government and have given authorities time till July 4 to order promotions or else face a state-wide strike.
"The strike would be state-wide. A meeting to this effect was held in Chandigarh," said Dr BS Randhawa, president, Punjab State Veterinary Officers' Association (PSVOA).
He said that the association had been requesting the government to order the much-awaited promotions. "The association has served an ultimatum on the government on June 19 to either order promotions within 15 days or face the consequences," Dr Randhawa said.
According to Dr Randhawa, the last time the government ordered promotions and placements as veterinary officers and senior veterinary officers was in 2010. "Since then, a number of people working in the department have retired, but no further promotions and placements have been taken up," he maintained.
Dr Randhawa further said that out of the existing five posts of joint director, four were vacant. "Out of 25 posts of deputy director, 24 are vacant. There is only one regular deputy director posted at Gurdaspur," he averred. There are 58 vacancies in the department against 93 posts of senior veterinary officers and assistant directors, according to Dr Randhawa.
"In all these posts, a pick-and-choose policy has been adopted. In most cases, very junior officers are deployed on key posts while senior staff with almost three decades of experience work under them as veterinary officers," he alleged.
Citing a few examples, Dr Randhawa said that in Hoshiarpur, a quite junior veterinary officer was posted as a deputy director, while in Amritsar six very senior veterinary doctors were working under a junior posted as a senior veterinary doctor.
Dr Randhawa maintained that the plea given to the affected veterinary doctors by the government was that a particular category of doctors had approached the judiciary against the existing rules of the department. "The department is going to face a crisis in the coming few years. Who will fulfill the requirements for the post of the director when there will be no competent doctor left in the department?" he quizzed.
Terming the allegations of delay in promotions and placements "baseless", animal husbandry department director Dr HS Sandha said that 125 veterinary officers had been recruited one-and-a-half years ago. "Fresh recruitments will be made after the panchayat elections," he maintained