Court asks government to consider their plea for change in assignment
With engineers working in the Public Works Department (PWD) complaining about the threat to their life from the sand mafia, the Karnataka High Court has directed the State government to consider their plea for divesting them from the responsibility of monitoring the process of illegal extraction and transportation of sand.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D.H. Waghela and Justice B.V. Nagarathna issued the direction to the government in a petition filed by Karnataka Engineers’ Service Association’s Chitradurga unit questioning the government’s circulars issued in October-November 2012, entrusting the responsibility of unauthorised sand extraction and monitoring on engineers of the PWD.
Citing a threat from the sand mafia, the petitioner-association and 17 Assistant Executive Engineers and Assistant Engineers from Chitradurga have suggested that the responsibility of monitoring unauthorised sand extraction and transportation could be entrusted to the Regional Transport Officers, the Police Department and the Mines and Geology Department.
They also complained that their regular assignment as PWD engineers has been affected with this additional responsibility.
However, during the hearing of the petition recently, counsel for the petitioner-association admitted that being government servants the petitioners were required to discharge duties and responsibilities assigned to them and in case of any difficulty in the execution of their duties, they should voice them through the proper official channel.
However, with several representations submitted to the government, counsel stated that in view of the threat and neglect of regular work due to additional work on sand extraction, their plea should be looked into by the superior officials.
Meanwhile, government counsel submitted that their petition could be treated as a representation for consideration by the authorities concerned.
Following this, the Bench directed the government to treat the petition as their representation and pass appropriate orders within a reasonable time keeping in mind the interest of administration and the safety of the engineers concerned.
Prior to amending the laws related to sand extraction and transportation, this responsibility was assigned to the Mines and Geology Department. Later, the task was transferred to the PWD.