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72,000 Maharashtra government jobs up for grabs over the next two years

The BJP government in Maharashtra will recruit people mainly in its agriculture and rural development departments.

mumbai Updated: May 17, 2018 10:34 IST
Swapnil Rawal
Swapnil Rawal
Hindustan Times
maharashtra,elections,Lok Sabha
Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.(Yogen Shah)

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Maharashtra will, over the next two years, recruit 72,000 people mainly in its agriculture and rural development departments.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’ office announced the decision on Wednesday, and said the vacancies will be filled in two phases — in the first phase, the government will fill a little over 36,000 posts by the end of 2018, and the remaining posts will be filled next year.

An official government release said the move was to strengthen rural governance, but it is being seen as an attempt by the Fadnavis government to placate voters from rural parts of the state ahead of the Lok Sabha elections and state Assembly polls in 2019. Further, the mass recruitment could also affect the state’s already growing salary bills.

The state plans to fill vacant posts in agriculture, rural development, home, public works, public health, water resources and horticulture departments. Officials said the state, in 2015, banned creation of new posts and restricted recruitment owing to the rising wage bill. “We are lifting the freeze on recruitment, and focus is on departments that need to create jobs in rural areas,” said Nitin Garde, principal secretary, accounts and treasury, state finance department.

“The jobs are mainly in the agriculture and allied industries. In 2018, we will recruit 36,000 people, and the next year, another 36,000 posts will be filled,” he said.

The Chief Minister’s Office said the most number of posts to be filled up are in the rural development department, with 11,005 jobs. The public health department will recruit 10,568 people, agriculture, animal husbandry and fisheries, 3,709, home, 7,111, PWD, 837, water resources department 827, water conservation department, 423, and 1,664 vacancies will be filled up in the urban development department.

The state’s focus on rural areas comes at a time when the Fadnavis government is struggling to handle rural distress caused by agrarian issues, lack of jobs and the poor implementation of its ambitious farm loan waiver scheme. According to the state government’s plan, the first phase of recruiting will be completed before the next Lok Sabha elections, while the second phase of recruitment will begin around the time Maharashtra goes to the polls in September-October 2019.

The decision could come at a cost. The state government’s annual salary bill ballooned almost two-fold in the past eight years, to Rs 25,911 crore, figures from the 2018-19 state budget show. The state government in its budget for 2018-19, estimated 57.50% of the total revenue was going to be spent on salaries, pensions and paying interest on debt — a 3% rise in expenditure compared to last year.

Garde, the principal secretary, justified the decision saying, “These are vacant posts. If people have retired and jobs are crucial, you have to recruit people. For overall employment generation, if there are no people at the cutting edges, there is a need to recruit people.”

But, a senior bureaucrat, who did not wish to be named, said, “The state government has already allocated Rs 10,000 crore to revise the pay scale. Now, with these new recruitments, it will add a Rs 2,000-crore load.” The bureaucrat, however, added that these were essential recruitments.

First Published: May 17, 2018 10:29 IST