IMPHAL August 17: Employees of the state excise department while condemning the cabinet decision to absorb 520 employees of the said department to the Relief and Disaster Management department congregated at the Lamphelpat excise head office today to discuss their further course of action to be initiated against the government verdict.
The employees of the department currently stationed at 39 sub stations throughout the districts of the state arrived at the head office to give their signatures as part of a campaign against the issued state order.
It may be mentioned that on June 17, a cabinet sitting had endorsed the proposal for constitution of a State Disaster Response Force by re-deployment of excise department staffs following the directive of the center’s national policy on disaster management.
The cabinet in the regard presented the facts that the Relief and Disaster Management Department (RDMD) at present had a meager work force of just 15 employees to respond to any unpredictable natural calamity and raising a separate work force would overstretch the resources of the state. Owing to this, it was proposed to transfer the manpower of the excise department along with its budget to the RDMD to constitute the response force. The employees would also be given training and equipments.
The excise department administration is controlled by the finance department and the latter had no objection to the cabinet decision. The excise department would retain only 25 staff out of its existing 545 employees. The work pertaining to enforcement of prohibition would also be transferred to the RDMD or Police Department.
Talking to IFP, L Bole Singh, general secretary of All Manipur Excise Employees’ Welfare Association said that the cabinet decision is a step to abolish the excise department and undermines the importance of the department in the state.
“There has been no recruitment to strengthen the working of our department since 1980 and we have given the best years of our lives in service. Now most of us are nearing superannuation. At this age, are we not physically and mentally capable of undergoing physical rigors to respond to natural disasters, it is an illogical and impractical decision of the state government”, he said.
Stating that the job profile is appropriate for new recruits, he added that the cabinet decision will not give any positive and practical direction to the proposed Relief and Disaster Management Department. “We demand the revocation of the cabinet decision”, he said.
He also mentioned that the commissioner of the excise department, Sumant Singh is also the Chief Minister’s secretary and any appeal from the employees association must be forwarded to him first. Following official procedure, the commissioner also referred the memorandum to himself as holding the post of the CM secretary. “It becomes a task to get order approval for carrying out our duty from him, as we have to go through red tape to meet him at the CM bungalow”, he said.
Voices were raised by the employees against the order and swore to oppose it tooth and nail at the Lamphel head office today.