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Raw-handed engineers given key field postings

The irrigation department has posted fresh officers who were selected through the Public Service Commission examination against the important field posts of sub-divisional officers (SDOs) without training.

On the other hand, the department has emergently organized training of SDOs for XEN positions whose cases are under litigation in the courts and the Chief Secretary’s Office.

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As per details, a former secretary Shehryar Sultan had promoted the officers against the quota which many claims didn’t exist at all. An appeal was filed in the chief secretary’s office against the secretary irrigation department’s order over alleged illegal sub-engineer promotions.

The appeal says that sub-engineers qualifying for the BSc Engineering or BTech Honors degrees can only be promoted against the 15% promotion quota and cannot be promoted against the 65% quota of initial recruitment according to applicable rules. The applicant submitted that the appointment of the respondents as Sub Divisional Officers (SDOs) on officiating basis against the quota of initial recruitment was, totally, against the laws as no vacant post was available against the 15% promotion quota of sub engineers.

According to the documents, the Punjab Service Tribunal (PST) and Lahore High Court (LHC) Lahore have also directed the department to decide the case according to the law. An inquiry was conducted by an ex-Additional Secretary Establishment Fazal ur Rehman and the respondent’s representations were rejected. As per the appeal filed in the CS office, some respondents also got direction from the LHC that said ‘treat it as representation and decide the same strictly in accordance with the law through speaking order within a period of 30 days from the date of receipt of certified copies of this order, without being influenced by the previous orders…’

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According to sources, 21 senior officers were undergoing training from XEN to SE in the Irrigation Academy Lahore. The department hastily sent 20 more SDOs for training due to which there was no room for newly inducted officers (SDOs) in the academy ignoring the training of new officers which is mandatory. Apart from this without basic training, they cannot be given field postings.

Sources also said that the department wants to promote these under-training SDOs at all costs while some believe that they cannot be promoted without following due procedure. People also went to the Lahore High Court against their promotion, which ordered the Chief Secretary Punjab to hear them and take a decision.

But before the hearing of the Chief Secretary, the department started the hearing on its own. On which the petitioner came once again with an order from the court directing the chief secretary to hear and decide the case.

It is important to mention here that a former secretary of the canal department had promoted the SDOs as XEN, which was later challenged in court.

When an attempt was made to take the stand of the department in this regard, an officer said that since the training of these persons has been started, they will complete the training but their promotion will be subject to the final outcome of the Chief Secretary office.

An officer said on the condition of anonymity that if the promotions of these sub-divisional officers were made it would be a huge financial liability for the public exchequer. On the one hand, the department says that there is a severe shortage of officers, on the other, it sent unnecessarily officers for training.

The affectee officers have requested Chief Secretary Abdullah Khan Sumbal to decide their petitions so that the department could not materialize its earlier move of promotions ignoring all the rules.



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