No clarity on the number of candidates required and salary details

The Madurai district administration has laid itself open to the charge of lack of transparency while conducting a public recruitment drive.

A press communiqué released by the Collectorate on Thursday calling for applications to fill the temporary posts of Cluster Facilitators, reserved for women members of Self-Help Groups (SHG), under the Tamil Nadu State Rural Livelihood Mission (TNSRLM), fails to provide mandatory information relating to the number of vacancies to be filled, the selection procedure and salary details.

The communique lists the qualifications expected of the candidates and asks interested persons to meet the Project Officer, TNSRLM, on August 10 with requisite documents and take a written test on August 12.

As per the communique, the candidate must have completed Class XII, though graduates would be preferred. The applicant should be below 40 years of age and should have been a member of an SHG for at least five years. During her stint with the SHG, she should have been in the capacity of a Motivator for two years.

The communique also states that the applicants must own mobile phones and must be conversant with sending and receiving Short Messaging Service (SMS).

Mode of selection

However, the communiqué is silent on the number of candidates the district administration intends to appoint, the mode of selection in case of candidates possessing equivalent qualifications and the quantum of salary the appointees would be entitled to.

Officials at the TNSRLM said the communique was prepared as per the instructions of Project Officer S.Purushothaman, who retired from service on Wednesday, the day it was ordered to be circulated to the press.

When contacted over phone, Mr.Purushothaman said there was no mention of the number of posts in the communique as it was yet to be finalised.

"The TNSRLM is implemented in four panchayat unions (PU) — Madurai East, Kottampatti, Tirupparankundram and Melur. Each PU has been divided into three clusters of 10 to 12 village panchayats and there are plans to appoint three Cluster Facilitators in each cluster. However, the number may go up and we may appoint candidates in phases after collecting all their applications," he said.

On the lack of clarity over salary, Mr.Arunachalam, Assistant Project Officer (Self-Employment), who took over as the officer in-charge on Thursday, said the successful candidate would get around Rs.7,000 a month and the money would be routed through the Panchayat-Level Federation Account.

"Since it is a temporary appointment, they would not be entitled to privileges such as casual leave. They would have to lose their salary for the days they do not work," he said. However, he was not sure as to how much would be deducted from their salary for every non-working day.

R.Gandhi, an advocate practising in the Madras High Court bench here, pointed out that conducting recruitment without clarity was one of the main reasons for such recruitment getting stalled when a candidate approached the court alleging bias or a lack of transparency.

"The State cannot conduct recruitments like private enterprises and the officials cannot give a go-by to transparency just because they think that rural women would be desperately in need of jobs and they would not mind the non-provision of basic details," he added.

He also said officials should not take chances when it comes to appointments to a crucial post such as the Cluster Facilitator whose services are vital to executing the TNSRLM’s aim of helping thousands of poor villagers to increase their household income by accessing various financial sources.

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