Punjab agriculture officials on strike over merger of extension staff
Every day, the officials, from the base level of development officers posted in the districts up to the level of deputy directors, of two-three districts of the state are reaching the agriculture department headquarters here to stage protest
The officials of the Punjab agriculture department, from senior to the base level, are on strike, seeking clarity on merger of extension staff into their cadre, bringing the day-to-day functioning of the department to a standstill.
Every day, the officials, from the base level of development officers posted in the districts up to the level of deputy directors, of two-three districts of the state are reaching the department headquarters here to stage protest. The officials went on strike earlier this week for an indefinite period.
The issue is between 215 agriculture extension officers who came with a qualification of two years diploma in agriculture from Punjab agricultural university (PAU) and 415 agriculture development officers who are graduates and post graduates in various agricultural courses. The extension officers have been demanding that the cadre be separated. Due to decisions of the government in the past, both the cadres were merged.
“The agriculture development officers and the higher level staff should be out in the field, as the paddy sowing is over, and the crop has to be monitored regularly,” said a senior officer in the directorate.
The trouble erupted after some of the officers deputed in quality control laboratories in different districts of the state were transferred after a long gap.
“There are at least 30 such officers who felt the unease after transfers and now they want to be stationed where they were posted earlier,” informed a senior officer in the department requesting on anonymity.
Also, the department has rolled out tenders for giving subsidised machinery for in-situ management for paddy crop residue (stubble).
“The district level staff has to monitor the entire process, for the reasons that machines given to farmers in the past four years under the same scheme were reported to be misused and pilfered,” adds the official.