The state public works department’s move to take action against its errant officials and engineers has hit a dead end ever since a file containing the terms of reference of setting up a departmental inquiry went missing over a year ago.
Strangely, no one in the department is aware of the disappearance of the all-important file from the Writers’ Buildings office. The incident came to light when PWD minister Amar Chowdhury asked for the file following complaints that several orders about promotions and appointments were issued bypassing the finance department and without the knowledge of the chief engineer’s office. The minister’s inquiries revealed that no FIR had been filed with the police.
Among the controversial orders brought to the notice of the minister by his chief engineer’s office was an appointment and posting of an assistant engineer in Midnapore when the matter was under scrutiny by the minister himself. Another contentious order was that promoting an officer to the post of chief engineer (mechanical), ignoring existing rules of business and procedure of the finance department.
S.K. Banerjee, secretary-general, Federation of Association of Engineers and Technical Officers (FAETO), said on Saturday that his organisation had submitted an ultimatum to the minister, demanding the cancellation of all irregular orders that were issued by January 7.
“Otherwise, the federation will launch a state-wide agitation to protest corrupt practices in the department,” he said. Banerjee has also requested the minister to constitute another file to replace the missing one with fresh terms of reference to set up an inquiry committee to prevent the abuse of authority by senior officers.
FAETO representatives met the PWD minister at Writers’ Buildings on December 23 and submitted written complaints against joint secretary J. Basu and special secretary B. P. Ganguly for concealing the disappearance of the file.