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Malda faces staff shortage

Malda, May 4: The Malda district administration is in a fix after failing to find the required number of people to man the polling stations of the panchayat polls in compliance with a state election commission notification.

This time, the commission has raised the number of polling personnel at each booth from five to six.

For the Malda district administration, the main hurdle is the shortage of personnel because of a freeze in the recruitment of teachers in primary schools.

With the number of polling personnel being increased, the administration is hard-pressed to find 16,000-odd employees required to man 2,100 polling booths in the district. Sources in the administration said not even 14,000 personnel could be drawn up from state and central government offices, insurance companies, bank and educational institutions.

All the political parties had submitted to the administration long lists of teachers whom they wanted as their election agents. The parties asked district officials to exempt these teachers from election duty.

The officials have, however, told the parties to show them an alternative where work could be carried out without these teachers.

The additional district magistrate of Malda, Purnachandra Shit, said the political parties have been told that their requests to exempt teachers who want to be agents of zilla parishad candidates from election duty could be entertained. “But requests for exemption of teachers who want to be agents of candidates in the two lower levels of the panchayat will not be entertained,” he added.

Shit said over the past 45 years more government employees had retired from service than employed. “We are facing an acute shortage of staff members. Senior officers are forced to stay up in the office for work till late at night because of the shortage of clerical employees.”

The administrations of North Dinajpur and Murshidabad districts had asked its Malda counterpart for polling personnel but the requests had been turned down.

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