Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: With filling of a mere 5 vacancies at the IPS level in 2018 and a mere 3 in 2017, Odisha is the only State in the country where the vacancy level of IPS officers, especially at the cutting-edge level of SPs or DIGs, has been among the worst in the country.

The vacancy rate in 2019 is hovering at around 38 per cent of the sanctioned cadre strength for the State. Odisha has around 71 vacancies now vis-a-vis the total sanctioned cadre strength of 188 IPS posts. No state in the country, including Maoist or terrorist affected states, display such a high rate.

What looks scary is the situation is going to worsen by 2020, because, the present in-position IPS strength would shrink to below 100 by then from 109 now. The reason: Around 9 more retirements are due by 2020, informed a highly placed source in the State home department.

The scenario has turned acute not because the direct IPS recruit size in Odisha over the years has fallen, but for non-filing of the promotion quota to IPS cadre from the State police services. The promotion-quota vacancies have grown over the years. The vacancies now are 57 vis-a-vis of 48 in 2010. And the reason: Non-availability of appropriate officers at the DSP level in Odisha for graduating to IPS cadre.

Why the situation has come to such a pass? The answer is not far to seek. An inspector-level official after rising to DSP level via promotion have to fulfill the condition of a minimum 8-yr long stint at DSP level in order to qualify to the IPS cadre. However, what was witnessed is by then he/she is well past the maximum age-limit of 54 years - the age bar to become eligible for promotion to IPS level.

What's the way out? Odisha Government could tide over the enormity by transferring its promotion quota to the Centre for making direct recruits, and when State would become capable to bring in its promotion-quota, it could re-align the cadre vacancies then, explained a senior official.

What is the fallout of the IPS vacancy on law and order machinery? State government has brought in ‘ex-cadre’ or SDR (State Deputation Reserve) postings to such cutting-edge level posts, which play vital role in crime volume control, direction and supervision in State.

It is well known that an officer on deputation could bend to any extent when the powers-that-be wish so, observed a senior Home Department official. He informed that against the authorised strength of SDR totalling over 21, the in-position men stood at around 30 now. Moreover, when the norm is SDR men can hold the office for only 2-years only, some are still enjoying their postings beyond the prescribed time-period.