Watershed Department to merge with it; order issued on August 12

The State government has issued an order to re-organise the Departments of Agriculture and Watershed which had been separated more than a decade ago.

The order issued on August 12, a copy of which was available with The Hindu, said that 37 sub-divisions under the Watershed Department would be closed down. Its employees would be attached to the Department of Agriculture.

The order said that the State government had carved out the Watershed Department from the Department of Agriculture in 2000. Later in June that year, the government had issued an order transferring some employees of the Department of Agriculture to the Watershed Department. It said that the Union Government had framed an integrated “Watershed Management Scheme” by merging different schemes under its Watershed Department.

Hence, the Agriculture Department in the State was now having more schemes, but finding it difficult to implement them as it was facing acute staff shortage. It was because the Watershed Department had more employees. The order said that re-organising the departments would help in implementing schemes effectively in the district and taluk levels by converging the schemes of both the departments.

However, official sources told The Hindu that the government had bifurcated the Watershed Department in 2000 for the sake of implementing some schemes of the World Bank as the bank wanted it. Now, there were no schemes of the World Bank with the Watershed Department. Hence there was no obligation on the part of the government to have a separate Watershed Department.

Sources said that more than four months had lapsed in the current financial year. Hence, there was no certainty on the order taking effect this financial year.

They said that the order had been confusing.

According to the organisational chart, the old structure which had two commissioners and two directors, as one each for agriculture and watershed, under the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture would remain intact. But the post of Commissioner (watershed) had been missing in the annexure (No. 3) on cadre strength in the order.

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