Punjab Association of Government Engineers (PAGE) has written to Chief Minister Punjab Parvez Elahi asking him to transfer incumbent secretary irrigation Manzoor Nasir by Dec 25 or they shall go on a complete pen-down strike from 26th, Minute Mirror has learnt.
They have also warned that no annual closure works will be executed. The allegations the engineers levelled against the secretary include bad governance such that posting and transfer are being used as a blackmailing tool. The engineers are threatened to be transferred from their present place of posting and asked to pay undue amounts. Routine maintenance activities are completely stuck up since September 2022 and funds are not being released for routine maintenance viz-a-viz huge demands are being made from the field Officers for the purpose. The Finance Department released O&M funds on 30th September but the Secretary of Irrigation has not distributed the same to the spending end so far due to which planning and approval processes could not be taken up despite the fact that the Annual Canal closure 2022-23 is starting within a week time.
Flood damages in severely hit areas of Taunsa, DG Khan, and Rajanpur Districts as well as breaches caused across drains and flood-carrying channels could not be recouped despite a lapse of 3 months after floods only due to the non-release of requisite funds. Due to this fact, even moderate rains in the winter season can generate flood-like situations which may bring a bad name to the department and the provincial government.
Secretary Nasir is not accessible to even Chief Engineers rather a Private Secretary and/or Mr Mahmood, ex-Deputy Secretary (Admin.) are to be contacted even for the most sensitive and confidential matters. Due to this reason, important technical issues remain pending and due diligence at the senior level remains impossible.
Nasir has no concept model for the execution of development works and has no interest in the implementation of the development plan. Resultantly, the financial progress of ADP 2022-23 works in the Irrigation Department is the lowest in ranking at the Punjab level. Low-cost development projects are to be approved at the DDSC level to be chaired by the Secretary of the Department. Unfortunately, his level of commitment towards development works is so condemnable that most of the schemes have been kept pending at the DDSC level despite the meetings already conducted in early November 2022. Resultantly, chances for on ground implementation of these projects during the current financial year have become scarce.
Under the circumstances explained supra, it is submitted with the utmost respect that the engineers of the Irrigation Department are unable to work under the command of current secretary Nasir. They requested that Mr Nasir may be replaced by some honest, diligent and progressive officer.
A superintending engineer on anonymity said the closure of canal is fixed for a certain period and notified every year. All kinds of major hydraulic structures, barrages, link canals, main canals, branch canals, distributaries, minors, sub minors and outlets are minutely checked by the different tiers of the officials of the department and all necessary repair works are carried out during the closure period which normally consists of about three weeks. Similarly, lining and de-silting of channels are also done in this brief span.
If the closure works are not done due to the strike of engineers, not only the safety of structures will be at stake but the farming community especially the tail irrigators will suffer badly for the next year. CM Ch Parvez Elahi and CS Abdullah Khan Sumbal should take notice of the worsening situation in the irrigation sector before things turn untidy. Secretary Irrigation is on ex Pakistan leave his stance on the issue if any would be published separately.