Institutions under zila parishad paint grim picture of neglect
It seems that zila parishads, which once aimed at developing rural areas, have now only become a source for political parties to show their political supremacy. Reeling under the apathy of the rural development and panchayat department, from education institutions to health centres, which are working under purview of zila parishad, paint a picture of neglect. Navrajdeep Singh reportspunjab Updated: May 14, 2013 21:45 IST
It seems that zila parishads, which once aimed at developing rural areas, have now only become a source for political parties to show their political supremacy. Reeling under the apathy of the rural development and panchayat department, from education institutions to health centres, which are working under purview of zila parishad, paint a picture of neglect.
With zila parishad and block samiti elections round the corner, the political leaders and candidates of different parties were making big promises to rural populace to carry out development in their respective areas but their promises appeared to be limited to 'development of roads and sewer lines (nalian)'.
Leaving aside promises to provide proper health and education facilities, candidates were involved in making political comments against each other to seek votes in panchayat polls to be held on May 19.
In 2006, the Punjab government shifted several schools and health centres to zila parishads from mainstream departments with the motive of strengthening the panchayati raj system as mentioned in the 73rd amendment of the Constitution.
As per the amendment in the Panchayati Raj Act, it allowed decentralisation of power and give responsibilities to panchayats to strengthen the system and provide better basic facilities in the rural areas.
No promotion policy; employees shattered
For seven years, the state government failed to provide any promotion policy for teachers and doctors besides no increments had been given till date unlike employees in parent departments.
As promised by the state government in 2006, it failed to constitute proper directorate to run these institutions.
According to information, there is no regular schedule for monthly salaries as employees were provided salaries through grant-in-aid issued by the Centre.
The authorities concerned have even failed to constitute service books of maximum number of teachers and have not opened provident funds account.
Primary schools in doldrums; teachers feel ignored
Fed up with the ignoring attitude of the state government, teachers working in primary schools under zila parishads have launched 'non-cooperation movement' against the Punjab education department.
As per information, 5,752 primary schools across the state were under zila parishads in 2006. Around 13,000 teachers were working in these schools.
Sources said many schools in Patiala, Sangrur, Barnala, Gurdaspur, Mansa and Fazilka districts were facing acute shortage of staff. In many schools in these districts, there was only single teacher for all subjects.
Jagseer Singh Sahota, state president of zila parishad teachers' association, said there was no arrangement for scholarships for students, proper infrastructure in the schools and issuing books to students.
“If government failed to run these schools properly, it should be better to merge these with the education department,” said a teacher.
Health centres, vet hospitals sans infrastructure, staff
Feeling suffocated, around 100 medical officers and 130 veterinary doctors have left their regular jobs and joined health department's services due to indifferent attitude of the authorities concerned. There were 1,186 health subsidiary centers under zila parishads.
A doctor, seeking anonymity, said for the past some years, they received no funds under the National Rural Health Mission and from state rural development department to improve infrastructure. Even medicines and necessary vaccines were not provided for months.
In many dispensaries, there were no toilets for doctors and visitors, no water and no power connection besides shortage of support staff.
“The government was not putting sincere efforts to redress the demands of employees recruited for zila parishad institutions,” the doctor said, adding that, “Lack of proper system and ignorance from panchayat development department had made doctors leave health subsidiary centres.”
In veterinary hospitals, no infrastructure or furniture was provided in the past seven years, putting a question mark on the sincerity of zila parishad authorities and government in improving condition in these institutions.
Several attempts to contact rural and panchayat development minister Surjit Singh Rakhra remained futile.