Government planning changes in staff structure

The State government’s reported bid to make changes in the staff structure of the Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project (KSUDP) is feared to affect the execution of a slew of ongoing projects in five corporations.

Official sources told The Hindu here on Monday that the government move to recruit a fresh complement of candidates to 67 crucial posts would thwart the smooth completion of a number of projects, which were in different stages of completion at present. This would also run contrary to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) directive that the stability of the project should not be affected by structural changes in the course of implementation.

The urban infrastructure improvement project primarily focuses on improving the efficiency of water supply, rehabilitation and expansion of sewerage networks, enhancement of solid waste collection and treatment capacity in four corporations, except Thiruvananthapuram, easing of traffic congestion by developing critical roads and junctions, and improvement of street-lighting, among others.

Launched in 2007, the majority of the works costing around Rs.1,420 crore were progressing on track without any hitch and it had won the acclaim of the ADB too. The project tenure had ended last year, but it has been extended up to July 2014.

Salary issues

The critique is that after a steep revision in the salary of the existing staff, the government had invited applications for a number of posts which are crucial in executing the projects at different levels in the corporations. The salary revision was made in compliance with the demand of the project staff, but the decision to add new members to the team is feared to go against the interest of the project.

The government has also completely changed the selection process. After dissolving the selection boards headed by the Mayors, a centralised system has been put in place. A nine-member board with the Local Self-Government Department secretary as chairman and the project director as convener has been constituted for selecting new candidates. The Mayors are understood to have registered their dissent against the decision, but to no avail.

The new entrants to the project will have to study the entire project from the start and hence completing them within a time-bound manner will not be easy. This would throw fresh hurdles and delay the timely completion, sources said.

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