The Ernakulam Section of the electrical wing of the Public Works Department is having a tough time by not being able to take up crucial projects and maintenance work, thanks to the permanent staff shortage.
In fact the department is forced to hire private parties for many of its works.
The sanctioned strength of the Ernakulam Section of the PWD is 14 which includes an Assistant Engineer, a first grade Overseer, a second grade overseer and 11 other field staff. But as of now only about 25 percent of the posts are filled. Out of the 14 sanctioned posts, as many as nine are vacant including the post of the first grade overseer.
According to sources with the department, the situation has been going on for years together.
“Since the last 7-8 years the total number of vacancies filled has never exceeded 50 percent of the total posts. The issue has been taken up before higher officials. But nothing positive has come out,” said highly-placed officials. It is also to be noted here that the ‘actual’ vacancies might be much higher, for over the years the number of buildings have been on the rise and so have their size. But there has not been a corresponding increase in the number of posts.
Owing to the staff crunch, the projects and maintenance of large buildings under the department like the High Court is now hired to private parties. In the district collectorate, the generator worth lakhs of rupees bought to meet the power requirements of its new building has been lying idle for more than a year owing to the non-availability of staff to operate it.
The woes of several local bodies are worse. The Kanayannoor Taluk, Kochi Taluk and Paravoor Taluk come under the Ernakulam section apart from parts of Aluva. But except for Kochi Corporation, most of the other local bodies (panchayats or muncipalities) lack electrical wings. Due to the staff crunch, projects undertaken are hence delayed.
“We are unable to meet the requirements of the panchayats and muncipalities that come to us for the maintenance of the buildings under them. Since the staff strength is low it is not possible for us to complete the work on time,” said an assitant engineer of PWD, Kochi
According to PWD officials, the staff are reluctant to continue in the department largely due to the issue of promotions. “The staff that are recruited to the PWD Electrical Wing have a tendency to shift to the KSEB as the oppurtunities for promotion is more in KSEB. So despite the filling up of the posts from time to time, vacancies continue,” he said.