Over 50% blocks without full time BDOs as Govt remains unconcerned

BDCs to face difficulties in performing duties & functions
GAD not filling direct quota posts, DPCs pending since long

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, Sept 9: Though Government has set into motion an exercise for holding elections to the Block Development Councils yet no attention is being paid towards filling up of more than 50% vacant posts of Block Development Officers, who otherwise are supposed to play crucial role in facilitating the Councils to perform their duties and functions as per the provisions of the J&K Panchayati Raj Act.
As per the figures of the Rural Development Department, there are 316 blocks across the State—148 in Jammu, 137 in Kashmir and 31 in Ladakh (Leh and Kargil) and ensuring holistic development of all these blocks is the responsibility of the Block Development Officers (BDOs) as almost all the schemes in the rural development sector are implemented through them.
However, more than 50% blocks don’t have full time Block Development Officers since long mainly because of the non-serious approach of the successive Governments in filling up of the vacant posts, official sources told EXCELSIOR, adding the prevailing situation has led to adhocism with one Block Development Officer holding additional charge of one or two adjoining blocks.
“Not only the developmental works are hampering due to the adhocism even vast population in rural areas is finding it difficult to get their development related issues resolved in a time bound manner as most of the times the Block Development Officers are compelled to shuttle between one block to another to supervise the developmental works and attend routine work in the offices”, sources said.
Holding the Government responsible for the prevailing crisis, they said, “though the General Administration Department was approached by the Rural Development Department a number of times for filling up of vacant posts of BDOs under direct quota by deputing adequate number of KAS officers yet no seriousness is being shown in this regard”.
“Even the Rural Development Department cannot absolve itself of the prevailing crisis as it has failed to convene Departmental Promotion Committee meetings during the past quite long time”, sources said while disclosing that in Jammu region the DPC has not been convened during the past about 10 years while as the same is pending in Kashmir valley during the past 5-6 years.
The prevailing crisis was the outcome of the unwarranted decisions taken by National Conference-Congress Coalition Government which created large number of blocks without looking into other important aspects, adding “even ineligible officials were promoted as Incharge BDOs and they are not interested in DPC as this exercise will deprive them of undue benefits conferred upon them by the National Conference-Congress Government”.
When the State Administrative Council (SAC) headed by Governor Satya Pal Malik accorded sanction to the holding of Block Development Council (BDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir in the month of March this year the Rural Development Department started expecting that the adhocism prevailing at the level of BDOs would finally come to an end.
Though exercise has finally been set into motion for holding of elections to 2nd tier of the Panchayati Raj Institutions yet no serious attention has so far been paid towards filling up of vacant posts of the Block Development Officers, who otherwise are supposed to play crucial role in facilitating the Councils to perform their duties and functions as per the J&K Panchayati Raj Act.
As per Sub-Section 3 of Section 28 of the J&K Panchayati Raj Act, the Block Development Officer shall be the Secretary of the Block Development Council. “How one BDO-cum-Secretary will be able to come up to the expectations of two or three Block Development Councils remains a million dollar question”, sources said.
“If the Government really wants the Block Development Councils to function smoothly it should immediately initiate steps to fill vacant posts of BDOs in order to bring an end to the prevailing adhocism”, they stressed.
When contacted, a senior officer of the Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Department admitted that more than 50% blocks don’t have full time BDOs since long. “All-out efforts are being made to conduct DPCs as early as possible so that posts under promotion quota could be filled up”, the officer said while wishing anonymity, adding “for rest of the posts we can only make fresh request to the General Administration Department”.
The officer admitted that in the absence of adequate number of Block Development Officers, the Block Development Councils would face immense difficulties in performing their duties and functions mentioned in the Panchayati Raj Act.