Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Odisha government is boasting of maintaining transparency in all procedures of administration under the 5Ts formula. However, massive irregularities and lack of transparency in posting and transfer of subordinate staff of the Odisha Fire Services department are irking several employees.

As per the allegations, some of the higher authorities of the State Fire Services are not getting transferred and staying at one place for several years. Moreover, some fire station officials are allegedly issuing verbal orders to Section Officers for sending concerned staff on deputation and keeping them for months together illegally.

The situation has forced the Fire Service DG, Santosh Upadhyay to issue a circular in this regard on April 12 for a course correction.

“It has come to notice that many FOs and CFOs have developed specific affection for some sub-ordinates in the ranks of fireman, leading fireman, driver havildar, fireman driver and are deputing or attaching them to training institutions, Range offices, and CFO offices to further their hidden agenda which amounts to unfair practices,” Upadhyay wrote.

As per sources, these questionable practices have mainly been reported from three Fire Service centers at Bhubaneswar, Naraj in Cuttack and Ramachandi in Konark. Around 60 Fire Services personnel have been posted in these centers among which more than 30 staff are working as trainers. Most of these staffs are working here for years allegedly backed by their strong lobby. Moreover, the higher officials of the centers are allegedly keeping more than 16 drivers near them illegally to serve their own vested interests.

It is alleged that these Fire Services personnel are neither doing any field duty nor going to the spot to douse fire and carry out rescue operations during natural disasters. As a result, resentment is brewing among other staff.

In view of these unfair practices, Upadhyay issued a series of instructions to curb the menace and maintain transparency in transfer orders.

“As per the order of the Odisha government, FM/LFM, FMD, Driver Havildar/ ASOs shall not be posted in any pretext in their home sub-divisions. FOs cannot attach/depute to any of above ranked personnel to Range offices/ CFO offices in violation of the government circular. Similarly, nobody will be attached/deputed to Range offices/CFO offices without written orders of the Directorate. It must be ensured by the Fire Officers that concerned staff has not worked earlier in the Range offices/CFO offices for more than three years on deputation/attachment for three years,” read the circular.

“No FM/LFM/Driver Havildar FMD/ASO shall be attached or deputed beyond sanctioned strength of OFDRA (20), OFDRI (20) and OSWLAI/OFDRI (14). During actual training months, staff of OSWLAI/OFDRI can be mobilized either way. It is seen that FOs are keeping selected persons in the Training Institutions for years together which amounts to vested interest. No man (FM/LFM, FMD, Driver Havildar and equivalent ranks) shall be allowed to work at any training institution for more than three years. It is the responsibility of the organisation to create new young trainers amongst available staff after skill test,” it further read.

The circular issued by Upadhyay pointing out irregularities and lack of transparency in posting and transfers has triggered a political slugfest in the State.

Opposition parties slammed the Odisha government alleging that irregularities and lack of transparency are rampant in almost all the departments of the State administration.

“The incident is just the tip of the iceberg. There is no transparency in any departments of the State government,” said BJP leader, Bhrugu Baxipatra.

“There is a monopoly in all the departments of the government and those are not functioning in a transparent manner. Allegiance to the ruling party is given importance instead of skills,” said senior Congress leader, Sura Routray.

However, the ruling BJD refuted the allegations.

“All these allegations are baseless. The opposition parties should bring specific allegations of corruption against any specific officer. Instead of doing that, they are beating around the bush. The government has maintained transparency in all the departments,” said senior BJD leader, Prafulla Samal.

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