Overworked and Tired, Madhya Pradesh Babus Cry Foul
By Abhinandan Mishra - BHOPAL
Published: 16th Feb 2014 09:19:55 AM
Madhya Pradesh is battling a shortfall of 98 Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers. And over-burdened serving bureaucrats are complaining bitterly about the extra work that comes with handling multiple departments.
The total sanctioned strength of IAS officers allotted to MP cadre is 417. However, at present only 302 officers have been allotted to the state. Of them, three are under suspension; while 40 are away on Central deputation.
“Out of the 417 IAS officers that the state should have at its disposal, only 259 are available. Of which, at least 60 joined service after 2009 and hence have little experience so to speak,” an official with the General Administrative Department (GAD) said. “So it won’t be an exaggeration to say the state is being managed by only 200 IAS officers who have experience of more than four years,” he said. GAD, which handles bureaucrats, is headed by CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan himself.
A senior officer, who is juggling responsibilities of at least four different departments for the past two years, admitted he has not been able to give attention to any of the four departments the way he would have liked to. “I have been overseeing work of four totally different fields. And that requires interacting with officials of all departments, briefing the minister among others. Due to excess work, none of the departments are being attended to in the way they should have been,” he said.
Officials say the shortage is not new. “One cannot comment on which department is facing the maximum shortage as officers are shifted from one department to the other quite often. Also a single officer handles multiple departments. In 2011 too, the shortage of officers in the state was more or less the same. You can check the list of officers who are on Central deputation. Some of them have been in Delhi for the past seven years. What can we do? The CM, rather than pushing for recalling them, is more content shifting the extra burden on us,” an additional secretary rank official said.
The senior-most officer of the state, Sumit Bose, a 1976-batch officer has been on Central deputation since 2007. Another officer, Vishwapati Trivedi of 1977 batch, left the state in 2005 and is presently serving as secretary, ministry of shipping. The shortage is likely to increase in the coming months as 20 IAS officers are going to retire this year.
One of the actions the state government has taken to tackle this shortage is to promote officers of state administrative service (SAS), called ‘promotee’ in administrative lingo, to IAS rank. “Recently 17 SAS officers were promoted to IAS. This may lessen some burden,” a commissioner rank officer said. The overburdening of responsibilities has affected the work space too. “It becomes hard to get for leave. We have ministers breathing down our necks for updates on matters of their department,” an official said.