Howrah Municipal Corporation (HMC), second largest civic body after Kolkata, recruited more than 125 contractual employees ignoring the embargo imposed by the state government.
Ahead of the elections scheduled in 17 civic bodies, including HMC, the cash-strapped state government imposed the embargo directing the municipal commissioners and chairmen across Bengal not to recruit any casual employee without the approval of the urban development and municipal affairs (UDMA) department.
The TMC-ruled HMC recruited the contractual employees like clerks and peons in different departments ~ stores, license, slum development, drainage and sewerage and boroughs ~ in the civic body following an order issued by mayor Rathin Chakraborty on 1 October.
Surprisingly, the date of the appointments was issued on 15 October. This has created flutter among the administrative officials in the HMC and they have raised questions saying, “How did the civic body issue the appointment on 15 October at a time when the embargo exists.”
Mr Bijin Krishna, HMC commissioner, was not available for comment. The state UDMA issued a notice during the first week of October to the civic bodies asking not to recruit any casual employee without approval of the department. Sources in the UDMA at Nagarayan building in Salt Lake said that some municipal bodies, mainly HMC, are reportedly diverting civic development funds of around three crore rupees annually to pay monthly salaries of more than 2000 casual staff posted in municipal body’s headquarters, different borough offices, crematoriums etc. These staffs with a monthly salary of Rs 8000 on an average were recruited in several phases during the past two and- a-half years without the necessary clearance of the concerned UDMA and finance departments respectively.
This process of recruitment raised the eyebrows of the UDMA officials when they found how HMC, second largest municipal corporation after Kolkata in the state, is spending huge funds for these casual employees since 2015 at a time when chief minister Mamata Banerjee has taken austerity drive directing the administrative officials for a cost-cutting initiative.
However, a senior administrative officer of the HMC admitted the fact of receiving notice on recruitment embargo. “We have received a copy of the notice that has also been sent to all other municipalities. HMC has already taken a large number of casual staff for different types of civic works. It requires around Rs 3 crores of rupees for their annual salary,” he said.