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Prices go through the roof, but department remains a lame horse

GUWAHATI, June 10: For a number of years now, the Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs has been carrying on its functions like a lame horse what with more than 200 posts still lying vacant. It hardly needs reiteration that with such a huge backlog, the department has been failing to function to its optimum capacity. And this is happening at a time when the prices of essential commodities are going through the roof, leaving consumers and the general public in a quandary.

The main purpose of the department is to monitor the market so that unscrupulous traders do not unnecessarily hike the prices of commodities as per their whims and fancies. However, the contrary has hit the State hard, thanks to several businessmen taking advantage of the situation.
Though special squads under the various deputy commissioners carry out investigations and raids whenever required in the market, personnel of the Food and Civil Supplies Department also undertake their monitoring duties under normal circumstances.

Talking to The Sentinel, a highly placed source of the Directorate of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs said that “the vacant posts are right from the top executive level”.

Among the 150 posts lying vacant are those of deputy director (13 posts), assistant deputy director (11 posts), inspector (28 posts), superintendent (17 posts), sub-inspector (93 posts), junior assistant (14 posts), driver (16 posts), grade-IV posts (16), and other posts (7).

“Most of the executive-level posts would be automatically filled up as the departmental promotion procedure is currently on,” said a source, adding, however, that “the need is also there for fresh appointments in certain other sections”.

He also pointed out that 35 posts of the sub-inspector level are sub-judice. Proposals have already been forwarded to higher-ups for filling up the remaining executive-level posts, he added. However, there would be problem in filling up the drivers’ posts as the department presently does not have an adequate number of vehicles.

It has been alleged that former Food and Civil Supplies minister Rihon Daimary did not take any initiative in filling up these posts. Now the ball is in the court of present Food and Civil Supplies Minister Phani Bhushan Choudhury.