Union Roads, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari had a very unexpected bit of advice for the government in Goa during his two-day stay in the State. The Minister, who a day earlier had expressed his unhappiness at the delay in works in the State that the Centre has funded, suggested that the State government take on board retired officials to hasten the process of land acquisition, as it was this that was causing the delays to the projects. The advice came with the assurance that the National Highways Authority of India will meet the financial burden of retaining the retired officials.
Before the government acts on this suggestion of the Union Minister, it would do well to determine just how many officials are already working for the State on extensions in service after their retirement. Just a few days before this, the Aam Aadmi Party had challenged the government to release a list of officers on extension, alleging that grandfathers and great grandfathers were holding posts in government that should essentially have being given to the unemployed youth of the State. The party had also alleged that most of the officers on extension were in some way related to politicians in power, so their names would not be disclosed.
Extensions in service should not be considered unless there are special reasons that justify them, or the person being awarded such an extension has extraordinary skills that others don’t. The reason why extensions are not advisable is because they deprive serving officers from promotions and transfers, and job seekers from being appointed to available posts. The Goa Government Employees Association has often demanded that all contract appointments post-retirement should be stopped. In this the association is justified and their demand needs to be considered by the government.
Gadkari’s suggestion of employing retired personnel is also contraindicative of the State government’s efforts to create jobs for youth, aiming at 25000 jobs in five years. This far the success rate in creating job opportunities has not been exceptional. The State had a first-hand experience of the unemployment situation in Goa when in January thousands of jobseekers queued up outside the North Goa Collectorate office for a first come first served interview for temporary clerical jobs, forcing the cancellation of the interview so as to give all the opportunity to be considered for the post. In a State where employment seekers are increasing in number, extensions in service should not be part of the government policy.
Also to be considered before any action is taken, is whether the Union Minister’s suggestion will hasten the development process. On the day Gadkari had this advice for the government, State PWD Minister Ramkrishna (Sudin) Dhavalikar proffered a different reason for the delays. Dhavalikar, stating that Gadkari was justified in being unhappy at the progress of works, said the delay was not because of the local officers or engineers but blamed political opponents for it, alleging that local politicians from across the spectrum were opposing projects, resulting in the delays. He didn’t name any politician, but went on to say that the government will not go ahead with projects for which objections have been raised.
Goa’s youth need jobs, Goa needs development. The path towards this should not be extensions in service to government servants. There are thousands of people out there who can do the same job as well, if not better than retired government servants. They should be given the opportunity.