Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

At a time when unemployment is rampant in Odisha, re-engagement of retired officers and extension of services by the government have shattered the hopes of lakhs of unemployed youth in the State.

As per the information provided by the State government in the Assembly, as many as 44 retired officials have been reappointed in the Information and Public Relations Department (I & PR Department) and 50 in the Skill Development and Technical Education Department. It clearly shows the weakness of the State government towards retired administrative officials. However, on the other hand, the number of registered unemployed youth in the State has reached around nine lakh.

As per reports, from peons of various departments to the adviser of the Chief Minister Office, only the retired employees are reappointed under the State government. As per the information provided by the I& PR Department, as many as 44 retired employees have been reappointed as Officers on Special Duty and they are being provided a salary of around Rs 10 lakh every month from the State exchequer. Moreover, in a reply in the Assembly, Skill Development and Technical Education Department Minister Priti Ranjan Ghadei has stated that as many as 50 retired officials have been reappointed in his department.

Though around 8, 98,000 unemployed youths in Odisha have registered themselves and are desperately waiting for jobs, lack of employment opportunities has left them frustrated.

“When retired persons will be reappointed in different posts, what the aspiring unemployed youth will do? Though we have the potential to clear the entrance, we are not getting jobs. Under such circumstances, we will be forced to hit the streets against the policy of the government,” said Antarjyami Senapati, a job aspirant.

“We are working very hard to clear interviews and secure jobs. However, positions are not opening as retired officials are again engaged in various posts. It is definitely a wrong policy by the State government,” said Sanjay Das, another job aspirant.

It seems that reengaging the retired officials has become a policy of the State government. Forget about other departments, even many officials have also been reappointed at the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO). The list includes former Development Commissioner R Balakrishnan, former Chief Secretaries Suresh Mahapatra and Asit Tripathy. While Tripathy has been reappointed as the Chairman of Western Odisha Development Council, former Chief Secretary Aditya Padhi has been given the responsibility of the Election Commissioner of the State. Not only IAS officers, but also two IPS officials have also been reappointed. While former police DG RP Sharma has been reappointed as a member of Lokayukta, retired IPS officer Abhay has been reengaged as the Chairman of the Odisha Staff Selection Commission.

Now questions are being raised as to why the State government is not giving appointments to new candidates when positions remain vacant after the retirement of officials. Opposition parties have slammed the Odisha government over the issue.

“The BJD has using the officials in their political propaganda for the last 24 years. They are afraid that by appointing youth their agenda will be exposed. Hence they are reappointing the retired officials and not giving the opportunities to the youths,” said BJP MLA Suryabanshi Suraj.

“The Odisha government should stop rehabilitating the retired officials. They should give employment opportunities to the youths in the vacant posts,” said Congress MLA Santosh Singh Saluja.

However, BJD refuted the allegations brought by the Opposition parties.

“The previous governments had not given employment to the youths of the State. During the tenure of BJD, the employment process is going on smoothly and youths are being appointed in various departments wherever there are vacancies,” said BJD leader Amar Satpathy.