Panchayat staff overburdened with work, say unions

Unions of panchayat employees have come out against burdening the panchayat staff with additional work including the conduct of field inquiry and scrutinising applications of beneficiaries of LIFE Mission projects.

In a representation given to the State government, the Kerala Panchayat Employees Federation pointed out that the government decision to utilise the service of panchayat staff already overburdened with various other duties, including COVID-related ones, for the LIFE Mission was unjustifiable.

The Federation has urged the government to either deploy employees from other departments such as revenue or entrust the job relating to the processing of applications with other agencies as was being done for the census. In fact, though the government had instructed panchayats to engage component institutions allotted under them for the works of LIFE Mission, the institutions are refusing to do the job, citing their heavy workload.

S.N. Promod, secretary of the Federation, pointed out that other departments had been exempted from undertaking additional works such as the one under the LIFE Mission project. Besides, the government had already directed that officers under the Agricultural Department shall not be engaged in non-agricultural duties. Even village officers are refusing to take up the job relating to the LIFE Mission, saying that they are otherwise tied with the implementation of various time-bound projects.

The Federation added that at the initial implementation stage of the LIFE Mission project, Kudumbashree groups had been entrusted with the task of identifying beneficiaries and uploading data. With the job now in panchayat employees’ hands, they are forced to handle thousands of applications in each ward.

Kerala Panchayat Employees Organisation general secretary Nieto Baby Areekal said that it was very unfortunate that the panchayat staff were being entrusted with the implementation of all the new projects.

In a memorandum to the Panchayat Director, he pointed out that panchayat staff was being tasked with the implementation of new projects when they could be implemented through other departments as well. Panchayat staff was forced to do works relating to the LIFE Mission in addition to their usual works such as registration of migrant workers, deaths and births, Jaljeevan Mission works, conduct of absolute poverty survey, and disaster management jobs.

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