The Punjab government is finally planning to shift more than 15,000 employees working under the rural development and panchayats department to their specialised departments. Elementary teachers, rural medical officers and veterinary officers would be merged into education, animal husbandry and health departments, respectively. Sources in the government said chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has invited leaders of the three staff associations concerned for a meeting at Punjab Bhawan in Chandigarh on Friday.
As per the details mentioned in the invitation extended to the associations, the meeting has been called to discuss their demands and the 73rd Amendment of Constitution of India. The 73rd amendment, which was introduced in 1992, contains provision for devolution of powers and responsibilities to the panchayats both for the preparation of economic development plans and social justice, as well as for implementation in relation to 29 subjects listed in the 11th schedule of the constitution.
In Punjab, a separate cadre of rural doctors, veterinary doctors and ETT (elementary teaching training)-qualified teachers was created under the panchayats and rural development department in 2006.
Punjab minister for rural development Sikander Singh Maluka said the meeting has been called to discuss longpending demands of various unions to shift them to different departments. The ETT Teachers’ Union, which is one of the most powerful unions in the state, has particularly been demanding to be shifted to the education department. A committee was constituted to explore the viability of shifting these employees to other departments.
However, reacting to the move, Dr Aslam Parvez, president, Rural Medical Services Association, said, “We have certain reservations over this move as it will hit rural health services badly. If the government is adamant to shift us to the health department, we will agree only if we are given all due benefits with seniority from 2006,” he said.
There are around 14,000 posts of ETT teachers, around 1,200 of rural medical officers and around 550 veterinary officers in Punjab.