The recruitment of 756 beldars (workers) to the Irrigation Department has been delayed, amidst apprehensions that the candidates selected on merit after a lengthy recruitment process could be dumped in favour of political appointees.
The posts were advertised in July 2011 and the final physical tests and interviews were finished by the second week of April 2012. Shortly after, the Chief Minister’s Secretariat verbally instructed the irrigation secretary not to issue offer letters to the selected candidates, who were chosen from among over 7,000 applicants, said an official.
He said that committees headed by the district coordination officer had been set up in each district on the instructions of the Chief Minister’s Secretariat to approach ruling party lawmakers and get their nominations for the appointment of beldars.
Meanwhile the candidates selected on merit, uncertain as to their fate, have been visiting the officers of executive engineers (XENs) and the irrigation secretary asking when they would be issued the appointment letters.
All 28 divisional headquarters under the supervision of the irrigation XEN advertised for applications to beldar posts during the last week of July 2011 on the instructions of the irrigation secretary. The maximum numbers of posts was 56, in Gujranwala Division, and minimum two, in Lahore Division.
Beldars are required to conduct minor or emergency repairs at water channels and thwart water thefts and so must be physically fit, said an XEN. The applicants were given swimming tests and interviewed from February to April 14. That was when the Chief Minister’s Secretariat halted the process, an official said.
An Irrigation Department official, requesting anonymity, said that the recruitment process would be re-initiated after the budget, with workers to be hired on the recommendation of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz lawmakers. Aides of parliamentarians have started collecting applications from party workers for the jobs, the official said.
Asked if he had received instructions from the Chief Minister’s Secretariat not to issue offer letters to candidates, Irrigation Secretary Khalid Masood Chaudhry said this was mere hearsay and the recruitments were being finalised on merit.
He said letters had already been issued to candidates in some districts. He said that the letters had been temporarily stopped, as a committee headed by the finance secretary was considering a proposal to hire surplus tubewell operators from the now scrapped Salinity Control and Reclamation Project as beldars.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 3rd, 2012.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ