Libraries in Mohali green belts: After audit objections, MC sacks 18 staffers, pays 3 month salaries
In the wake of objections from the audit department, the municipal corporation (MC) has sacked 18 employees hired at six libraries located in various green belts of the city six months ago, but has paid them salaries for just three months.
In their place, MC has recruited six clerical staff on permanent basis for the libraries located in Phases 4, 6, 3B1, 9, and 11, and Sector 70.
Terming it a financial burden on MC, the audit department had objected to the recruitment of three contractual employees in each library.
The department had stated that as per a 2017 Punjab government policy, no recruitment can be done through outsourcing or contractual basis without government approval. Yet, MC recruited three staffers, including a librarian, a helper and a security guard, for each reading room.
Citing example of the main library at Silvi Park, Phase 10, the audit said, “It is the main library. Only one person is taking care of it, yet it is running very smoothly.”
Due to these objections, the 18 employees were not paid salaries ever since the reading rooms were made functional six months ago. But before terminating their services recently, MC disbursed their salaries totalling ₹7 lakh for three months, without any information about the dues for the other three months.
On his part, MC commissioner Kamal Kumar only said, “Salaries have been paid after approval from the House. But we have replaced them with six permanent employees.”
INVISIBLE WHITE ELEPHANTS?
The Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) had set up the libraries at a cost of ₹20 lakh each around three years back, and handed them over to MC. But they were opened to public only six months back.
As MC failed to procure any books, residents donated reading material for the libraries.
Worse, there are no signboards on the libraries’ premises to indicate their presence. Besides, the corporation has not framed any policy on membership eligibility or rules for issuing books.
As such, residents looking for library services are forced to rely on the public libraries in Sectors 17 and 34, Chandigarh.
Ward number 47 councillor Sukhdev Singh Patwari said, “Six months after the libraries were inaugurated, the civic body has not floated any tender to procure books. Besides, the employees are feeling cheated as they haven’t received their salaries despite working for six months.”
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