GUWAHATI, Jan 18 - One of the major reasons for 1,327 of the 8,056 Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) water supply schemes of the State currently lying defunct is the acute manpower shortage. This figure constitutes 16 per cent of the PHED schemes.
Official figures state that the PHED has 9,440 sanctioned schemes and 1,384 of them are now in various stages of implementation, while 8,056 of them have been completed.
According to official sources, a large number of the posts of khalasis, the field-level technical staff of the department are now lying vacant and the authorities concerned are yet to adopt a policy to make fresh recruitment to fill up these vacancies. This has been the state of affairs since 1993. It has led to the formation of the users� committees in many areas to run the water supply schemes of the department with the involvement of the consumers. But, these committees have also failed to deliver the goods in many areas.
Sources said that at places, some PHED khalasis are on an average running four to five schemes, which is humanly impossible. Again, it is found that in many remote areas, no PHED engineer is available. This is also attributed to the dearth of engineers in the department. Against the 277 sanctioned posts of assistant engineers in the department, 91 posts are now lying vacant, while against the department�s 556 sanctioned posts of junior engineers, 131 posts are also lying vacant.
Similarly, 21 of the 161 assistant executive engineers� posts are now lying vacant and the vacancies against the 13 of the department�s 62 sanctioned posts of executive engineers remain to be filled up. Nine posts of the department�s 17 posts of superintending engineers are lying vacant, while six posts against its nine additional chief engineers� posts are also lying vacant.
To fill up some of the vacancies against the posts of assistant engineers and junior engineers of the department, selection tests were conducted by the Assam Public Service Commission (APSC) some time back. But no recruitment has been made so far to fill up the vacancies.
The PHED departmental promotion committee (DPC) selected 32 assistant engineers to fill up the existing vacancies against the posts of assistant executive engineer. Eleven of them have been promoted, but the rest are yet to be promoted. The DPC has also selected 16 assistant executive engineers to fill up the vacancies against the posts of the superintending engineer, and, nine superintending engineers to fill up the vacancies against the posts of additional chief engineers of the department.
It is stated that only two selected superintending engineers have been promoted to the posts of additional chief engineer. Only seven executive engineers from the select list have been promoted to the posts of superintending engineer, leaving nine posts of the cadre vacant. Only 11 vacancies have been filled up in the cadre of assistant executive engineer through promotion, and thus 21 posts in this cadre are vacant.
Significantly, the vacancy against the post of the department�s Secretary, which is a promotional one, has not been filled up. An IAS officer is running the department as its Secretary on an ad hoc basis.