New Delhi: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has written letters to all cadre-controlling authorities, directing them to immediately send IAS, IPS and other all-India service officers on deputation to the union territories (UTs) of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh amid an “acute shortage” there.
In an Office Memorandum dated 26 October, addressed to all cadre-controlling authorities, the MHA “requested that the willingness of Central Civil Services Officers, selected through Central Civil Exams conducted by the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission)… may please be obtained” for a stint in the two UTs.
The MHA asked the authorities to “provide the name(s) of suitable officer(s), eligible for deputation in terms of existing guidelines and willing to serve in the Governments of UT of J&K/UT of Ladakh, along with the cadre-controlling authority’s consent/no objection and vigilance clearance of the officers at the earliest”.
The communication, accessed by ThePrint, has been sent to the Railway Board chairman, Controller General of Accounts (CGA), Comptroller Auditor General of India (CAG), secretaries of the ministries of Defence, External Affairs, Corporate Affairs, and Information and Broadcasting, chairpersons of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), and the Departments of Commerce, Telecommunications and Posts.
While J&K has a stipulated cadre strength of 137 IAS officers, there are only 58 serving officers in the cadre. Of these, at least nine are on deputation to the Government of India.
Similarly, while the cadre strength for IPS officers is 147, only 66 are currently serving.
The erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir was bifurcated and recategorised last year as the UTs of J&K and Ladakh. Until then, the J&K cadre served Ladakh as well. There is a proposal to merge the J&K cadre with AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram, Union Territories) in light of the reorganisation, but it has yet to be executed.
Shortage of civil servants has been a problem J&K has faced for years, but a former official of the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) said the situation is not unique to it.
ThePrint contacted the official spokesperson of the J&K government, Rohit Kansal, but he said the administration had no comment on the issue. Approached with queries on why there is a shortage of officers in the UTs, and the status of the proposed cadre merger, MHA spokesperson Nitin Wakankar said he would send the questions to the additional director general in the ministry. By the time of publishing, there was no response.
Not a new issue
The issue of shortage of officers in Jammu and Kashmir is not new. Sources in the UT administration say very few officers are sent to J&K every year through direct recruitment.
“At an average, four to five officers should be allotted to J&K for a better cadre. But, actually, not more than one or two are allotted,” a senior J&K cadre officer said on condition of anonymity. “The retirements in the last 20 years are over four times the intake,” the officer stated, adding that the bifurcation of the state has exacerbated the shortage as several officers from the J&K cadre have been moved to Ladakh.
According to data analysed by ThePrint, from 1987 — the batch that accounts for the most senior officers of the J&K cadre currently serving in the government — to 2010, only one to two officers were inducted into the cadre most years, with the remaining seeing no inductions at all.
However, between 2010 and 2015, the number of officers allotted to this cadre annually rose to four, only to drop again to one or two after 2015.
In 2019, only one officer was allotted the J&K cadre.
“If you want a well-functioning cadre, you have to allot more people to the state. Otherwise, you will have to depend on officers from other states and other services to come to J&K, and work here,” said another IAS officer from the union territory.
A former official of the Department of Personnel and Training said J&K is not alone in getting fewer officers than needed.
“There are vacancies of IAS and IPS officers across the country. So, while the Centre tries to fill the vacancies for all the states, given that there are massive shortages across the country, it has to allot officers judiciously to each state.”
Courtesy: The Print