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Service rules render Cabinet decision toothless!

So long the service rules remain unchanged we have to go follow the existing service rules in appointment: Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma

By our Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Feb 11: The well-intentioned decision taken by the Assam Cabinet to abolish the system of oral interview in the selection of third and fourth grade candidates will continue to remain a toothless one so long the service rules of various departments in the State remain unchanged.

This issue arises as, apparently defying the Assam Government’s decision to abolish oral interview for Grade 3 and Grade 4 government jobs, the State Education Department has issued notifications to fill up 114 vacant posts of Grade 3 in provincialized colleges in the state. In an employment notification the Directorate of Higher Education has asked the colleges to recruit candidates by conducting written test, computer test and oral interview.

In its very first Cabinet meeting on May 25, 2016, the BJP-led State Government decided to abolish oral interview for Grade 3 and Grade 4 government jobs. The decision was taken as there are allegations that the credits for oral interview are often tweaked because of interference. The Central Government also decided that there would be no interview for Group D, C and B non-gazetted posts.

Talking to newsmen on the issue today, State Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said: “The Cabinet has taken the decision to abolish oral interview while filling up grade III and IV posts, but the various departments of the State government haven’t yet changed their service rules, as many as 150 in their number. This apart, the State Assembly has to okay the amendment of service rules of some of the departments. It won’t take less than a year to change the service rules. So long the service rules remain unchanged we have to go follow the existing service rules in appointment.”

On former State Education Minister Sarat Barkataty’s comment yesterday that computers had been bought at Rs 25,000 per set in 2013 which the present government has bought at Rs 13,500 per set, Sarma said: “In 2013 I was the Education Minister. Computer sets were, however, procured by the IT Minister. Then Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi was holding the IT portfolio at that time, not me. I wasn’t responsible for all that Gogoi did. Moreover, we differed largely, and that made me quit the post of minister.”

Reacting to Barkataky’s statement that the computer sets given away to students this year are of poor quality, Sarma said: “It was IIT-Guwahati Prof. Gautam Baruah who had checked the quality of the computer sets then and now. I’ve nothing to say on that.”

Barkataky had to level such an allegation against Sarma as the latter, while giving away the Anundoram Barooah Scheme awards recently, had alleged that there had been large-scale anomalies in the procurement of computer sets for students in 2015 when a set of such computers had been procured at Rs 19,950 against Rs 13,500 this year.

Reacting to an allegation that the 104 ambulance service has been stopped because of lack of fuel and that it has a debt of Rs 5 crore, Sarma said: “There’s no cash crunch. Those involved in the service should have asked me for funds. I could have released the amount. By March 31 this year, I’ve to utilize Rs 20,000 crore. I’ve already released Rs 12,000 crore. I still have Rs 8,000 crore at hand. If those involved in 104 ambulance service are really interested to continue the job, they should approach me for funds. If they aren’t interested to continue the service, others are ready to continue it.”

On the issue of free textbooks to school students, Sarma said: “The previous government distributed around 48 lakh textbooks free of cost, but there was no hue and cry. However, this year so far we’ve distributed 60 lakh textbooks free of cost against our target of 1.20 crore textbooks. This essentially means that earlier the students had to sit for examitions without textbooks. If 15 per cent of them were capable of buying books, the rest had to continue their study without books.”