The Punjab government is planning to lower the minimum qualification for appointment as agriculture officers from MSc to BSc. The state cabinet is likely to take the decision in its meeting on Monday.
Graduates and postgraduates from Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, join the state agriculture department and fresh graduates demanded that they be given a chance a take competitive examination for the post.
In a representation to chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, fresh graduates said those who can’t afford higher studies should not be deprived of appearing for the competitive examination.
In 2013, the state government fixed MSc as the minimum qualification to take the competitive examination. Those who clear the exam, conducted by the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), are appointed as agriculture development officers (ADOs). Before 2013, MSc candidates taking the exam used to get preference in the interview.
“There were reports that many candidates were not able to take the exam due to eligibility criteria. Also, the minimum qualification to appear for the civil services is graduation. So, increasing the minimum qualification criteria doesn’t make sense,” said an agriculture department official.
350 POSTS TO BE RECALLED
The government may defer the entrance test to fill 350 posts of agriculture officers for which a requisition had been sent to the PPSC. Sources say if the eligibility criteria is changed (from MSc to BSc), the posts will be filled under the new policy.
So far, PPSC has not invited applications against the earlier sent requisition. “We may have to send the requisition again if the cabinet changes the minimum qualification criteria,” said director agriculture JS Bains.
NO DIRECT RECRUITMENT
ADOs get timescale promotion as agriculture officers. As per norms 25% posts of agriculture officers are filled through direct recruitment. The cabinet is also expected discontinue the practice of direct recruitment. The government has sought suggestions from state personnel department, which is expected to come on Monday.