Agri and Horti graduates upset with routine relaxation of service rules

Gangtok, 18 Nov:

Sikkim Unemployed Agriculture and Horticulture Graduates Association [SUAHGA] has demanded that the State government abide strictly to service rules in the interest of agriculture and horticulture graduates of Sikkim. The organisation has demanded that no further relaxation of service rules be considered since such compromises were tantamount to suppression of their fundamental rights.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday, SUAHGA president, Rebecca Gurung, informed that at present, Sikkim has around 800 graduates, post graduates and PhD degree holders from agriculture and horticulture disciplines who have been running from pillar to post for employment.

She added that the State Agriculture Service Rule 1994 and Sikkim State Subordinate Agriculture Service Rule 2001 clearly state that vacancies be filled in 50:50 ratio - 50% by promotion and 50% by direct recruitment.

She went on to inform that the State government has not made any recruitments in the State Agriculture Service since 1996 except for VLW posts for which the minimum qualification is just class XII passed.

“This is the main reason behind the lack of technical personnel in the department and the complete deprivation of technical graduates. Due to lack of opportunities, many highly qualified individuals were compelled to sit for interviews for the VLW post,” she detailed.

Ms Gurung stated that the concerned department has been relaxing the service rules (claiming one-time relaxation every time) which has worked against the interests and rights of agriculture and horticulture graduates.

She informed that SUAHGA has approached all the higher authorities several times but not received any positive response or written explanation.

She informed that after a long gap of 23 years, advertisements announcing 23 posts of Agriculture Development Officers, Horticulture Development Officers and Watershed Development Officers were published earlier this year.

She added that these 23 posts cover merely 3% of the 800 agriculture and horticulture graduates in the State. And this too has not gone smoothly.

“…in the process we faced many chaotic situations as all horticulture graduates were put in rejection list due to some technical error and non-amendment of service rule in spite of clear indication of post as ADO, HDO and WDO,” she informed.

She added that despite several queries and even a legal notice, the concerned department has failed to offer any explanations.

And even as this confusion prevails, the Department went ahead and promoted 63 employees, who do not even meet eligibility criteria, as ADO, HDO and WDO without maintaining the proper ratio and one allegedly illegal appointment in the post of HI was done.

The Association is demanding timely recruitment of required strength and stressed that the service rules be strictly followed.

Ms Gurung also stressed that the State government should be strict in implementing MoUs with different agricultural and horticultural organisations to ensure employment to local graduates.

She also urged the government to open a State Agriculture University for the upliftment of the state organic mission. She also appealed the government to revise the cadre and amend the service rules taking professionalism and technical expertise into consideration.