Staff redeployed, Kerala Water Authority sewerage section’s operations go for a toss
Employees under the chief engineer (sewerage, project planning and development, and Wascon, a consultancy wing) have been redeployed to the Jal Jeevan Mission.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Redeployment of employees to the Jal Jeevan Mission within the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) has hit KWA’s sewerage section hard with its offices in various districts grappling with severe staff shortage.
Employees under the chief engineer (sewerage, project planning and development, and Wascon, a consultancy wing) have been redeployed to the Jal Jeevan Mission. Due to this, the Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Kozhikode circle offices of the KWA’s sewerage section are facing acute staff shortage.
The Union government had sanctioned Rs 1,039 crore and Rs 797 crore to the Swachh Bharat Mission and AMRUT Scheme, respectively, in the state more than two years ago. Wascon was constituted in 2008 and merged with the PPD wing in 2016.
Following the National Green Tribunal’s verdict in 2020 directing all local bodies to ensure that rivers are pollution free, then KWA MD S Venkatesapathy brought the Wascon and PPD under the sewerage division.
The move took the staff strength to 251, of whom 151 are working as surveyors. The rest 100 comprise engineers, administrative officers and clerks. “Following redeployment in sewerage, PPD and Wascon, four circle offices under the sewerage section of KWA camp offices in Wayanad, Ernakulam and Kannur have been closed down. The Alappuzha, Idukki, Thrissur, Palakkad, Kozhikode and Kannur offices are functioning with just one staff,” a senior KWA official told TNIE.
“In Swachh Bharat Mission-2, the local self-government department has included 16 projects worth `300 crore. We are working on it across the state with just 55 officials, against the required strength of 100. The State Level Technical Committee will meet in the next few weeks in which three of nine projects will get administrative sanction. It’s impossible to work on the projects with the current manpower,” the official said.
Already, trade unions in KWA, including the CITU, INTUC, engineers’ association and CITU-led Association of Kerala Water Authority Officers (AKWAO), have submitted representation before the government against redeployment. The trade unions have also urged the government to hold a workshop to identify the best methodology on sewerage that needs to be adopted when decentralisation is implemented.
The INTUC attached to the Congress had proposed including the 2,235 volunteers of the Jal Jeevan Mission in the PPD wing to assist them .
Trade unions against redeployment
Trade unions in KWA have submitted representation before the government against redeployment. They have also urged the state government to hold a workshop to identify the best methodology on sewerage that needs to be adopted when decentralisation is implemented