Uttarakhand govt asks officials to get ministers’ approval for work allocation, scheme proposals
The Uttarakhand government has directed officials to seek ministers’ approval for allocation of work relating to departments and get their political bosses’ clearances for proposals before they are put up before the Cabinet.
Chief secretary Utpal Kumar Singh confirmed that officials have been directed to get work allocation relating to departments approved by the ministers concerned. “Work allocation is done by ministers as per the set rules of business,” he said.
“Wherever this process is yet to be followed, officials have been asked to get the work relating to departments allocated by the ministers to the officials concerned.”
Singh clarified that barring a few exceptions pertaining to the previous governments, the rules of business are “properly adhered to” by officials.
The government chose to issue such instructions, said to be at the behest of chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, more than a year after the BJP came to power with a three-fourth majority.
According to ministers, officials were directed to adhere to rules after they took up the work allocation issue with the chief minister. The ministers also reportedly complained to Rawat that most officials do not take their clearances for proposals pertaining to schemes, projects and policies before they are put up before the Cabinet.
A minister admitted that he got his secretary replaced after the senior IAS officer took a call on half-a-dozen issues in his absence. “I got the secretary concerned immediately replaced after giving him a good dressing down for his misconduct,” said the minister, who did not wish to be identified.
“I told him that decisions on policies and projects could only be taken by policymakers (ministers) and not by the bureaucrats,” he said. “They (bureaucrats) are there only to execute policies.”
Agriculture minister Subodh Uniyal said bureaucrats sometimes “tend to forget” that the ministers are constitutionally mandated to take a final call on issues pertaining to work allocations, schemes and projects.
Another minister who did not wish to be named said most Cabinet members share the complaint that the bureaucrats ignore them while taking decisions on issues relating to work allocation.
The chief secretary clarified that before the proposals relating to ministries are put up before the Cabinet, they are routed through the ministers concerned for clearances. “Similarly, before the proposals are put up before the Cabinet, they should also be routed through all related departments for their views, so it (Cabinet) doesn’t face difficulty in taking decisions,” he said. “Normally, this procedure is also adhered to by officials.”
The state bureaucracy has been facing flak from their political bosses for its “rather imperious” ways since the mountain state’s formation in 2000. Congress veteran and former CM Harish Rawat went to the extent of accusing the bureaucracy of undermining his authority. “The orders I issue keep moving in circles like jalebis (sweet),” he had famously remarked.
Officials refuted such allegations. “Politicians want us to approve even the schemes which are not legally tenable or for which the budget is not available,” a senior bureaucrat said requesting anonymity. “We turn down such proposals and are instantly accused of undermining the authority of our political bosses.”