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Agri projects hit by �shortage� of officers


GUWAHATI, June 17 - At a time when both the Central and State governments have prioritised time-bound implementation of various flagship schemes targeting the farm sector, the State Agriculture Department�s activities are getting affected on account of �manpower crunch� as many posts are lying vacant even as a large number of serving officers have been deployed for other activities like the NRC update process.

Sources in the Agriculture Department told this newspaper that the large number of vacancies and shortage of officers at different slabs has impacted implementation of projects.

�The State government recently released the gradation-cum-seniority list of officers of the department. The list clearly shows that a lot of posts in various ranks are lying vacant. There has been no effort to fill up the vacancies by conducting fresh recruitment. The department�s work is suffering on account of this,� an official told The Assam Tribune.

As per the list which has been updated till May 31 this year, there are currently five vacancies in the rank of Additional Director of Agriculture, 11 vacant slots in the rank of Joint Director of Agriculture, 18 in the rank of Deputy Director of Agriculture/District Agricultural Officer, 13 in the rank of Assistant Director of Agriculture, 90 positions in the rank of Sub-Divisional Agricultural Officer, 13 slots in the rank of Senior Agricultural Development Officer and as many as 130 vacant posts in the rank of Agricultural Development Officer.

�In addition, a number of serving officers have been deployed in other non-departmental operations like the NRC update process. For example, in entire Majuli district, there is at present only one District Agricultural Officer engaged in departmental work, while all others are engaged in other activities. In Biswanath district, not a single officer is deployed in departmental work. As such, we are facing a big vacuum and the department�s activities have got paralysed,� said the official.

He added, �This is happening at a time when the government has focussed on implementation of flagship programmes like the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, and the newly-announced pension scheme for farmers, besides the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, among others.�

It is noteworthy that a State-level review meeting of the department was held here last week under the chairmanship of State Agriculture Minister Atul Bora.

�The Minister spoke about time-bound implementation of projects. But how will it be possible to do so if the department faces such big manpower crisis? Besides, there is also the issue of lack of promotion avenues. There are officers who have worked for 25-30 years without getting a single promotion,� the official added.

Meanwhile, sources added that the department is likely to take steps soon for conducting a fresh round of recruitment to fill up some of the existing vacancies in the Agriculture Department.

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