15,000 transfers in just over four months!

Shimla, May 18 (IANS) The Congress government in Himachal Pradesh has effected a staggering 15,000 transferes in the little over four months it has been in office but the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) says the number is more than double that. The Himachal Pradesh High Court has now stepped in and put a stop to at least five transfers and cancelled one.

“The government has focussed only on transferring employees from one place to another. There is no developmental agenda. You see the government has issued over 35,000 demi-official notes recommending transfer of employees. Of these, over 15,000 transfers have been implemented,” BJP legislator and state general secretary Randhir Sharma told IANS.

Citing one case, he said a school-cadre lecturer was posted in Shimla town and within 15 days was again shifted from there.

A division bench of Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Kuldip Singh May 14 stayed the transfer of junior basic teacher Vijay Lakshmi that had been effected on the recommendation of Public Health Minister Vidya Stokes.

Vijay Lakshmi moved the court with the plea that she was transferred on political grounds.

“Even my department does not come under the purview of the minister who recommended my transfer. The transfer is neither in public interest nor in administrative interest,” she contended.

At the first hearing, the bench directed the government to reply within four weeks.

Another division bench of Justice D.D. Sud and Justice D.C. Chaudhary May 15 stayed the transfer of primary school principal Savita Kumari.

She had been transferred on the recommendation of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s close aide and former minister Ram Lal Thakur.

The petitioner alleged that transfers on the recommendation of ruling party leaders were unjustified and illegal.

Earlier, the court had stayed a transfer on the recommendation of Congress legislator Khub Ram.

It has even quashed a transfer made on the recommendation of Himachal Lokhit Party legislator Maheshwar Singh, who owes allegiance to the chief minister.

A senior official said the transfers made by the previous BJP government were cancelled by the new government soon after coming to power.

“Some of the close associates of (former chief minister) Prem Kumar Dhumal, including the president of state non-gazetted officer’s (NGO) association, Surinder Thakur, and the president of the employees federation, Vinod Kumar, were transferred soon after the formation of the new government. But both also got relief from the high court,” said a government official, who didn’t wish to be identified.

Official sources said out of the total transfers implemented so far, the maximum are in the education department (4,000), followed by police (2,000), the health department (1,500) and 500 each in irrigation and public health and public works departments, besides other departments.

The state government has termed these transfers “routine” but won’t come out with the total number.

An employee’s transfer dents the state government, which is seeking a special package from the central government to overcome a whopping Rs.29,000 crore debt.

Depending on their level, employees get a transfer allowance of between Rs.5,000 and Rs.15,000.

Justifying the transfers, NGO federation secretary general S.S. Jogta said the employees who were victimised by the previous BJP government were now

given postings as per their choice. “Such transfers are routine in every government,” he added.

The fund-starved government, reeling under an ever-swelling wage bill, has over 300,000 employees.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at [email protected])

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