|Jayanta Aikat; Mamata at the Asansol rally on Thursday. Pictures by Aparna Chatterjee and Sanat Kumar Sinha
Jan. 11: An additional district magistrate has been benched apparently because he did not organise a parade of over 2,000 girls on bicycles to the chief minister’s dais yesterday, deepening concern among bureaucrats.
The Asansol additional district magistrate is the eighth official to be put in “compulsory waiting” since the Mamata Banerjee government came to power. “Compulsory waiting” means salary can be drawn but no work or post will be assigned and an adverse entry will be made in the service record.
Jayanta Aikat, 49, has been shunted out because he did not want to put the schoolgirls at risk by asking such a large number to cycle past Mamata’s dais in Asansol, according to a functionary of the WBCS Executive Officers’ Association.
However, Aikat said: “I was not assigned to do that particular duty. I had been asked to maintain liaison with the police and the PWD.”
A senior official in the home department’s personnel and administrative reforms wing at Writers’ said the order to remove Aikat, a 1990-batch officer, was released today.
“The officer was removed and kept in compulsory waiting as he could not meet the requirements as one of the organisers of the chief minister’s programme in Asansol,” the home department official said.
Another WBCS association official said at Writers’ that at the chief minister’s programme in Asansol yesterday, she had distributed bicycles to 2,781 schoolgirls of the minority community.
“The chief minister wanted the girls to ride their bicycles in front of the dais. When the girls did not turn up, she asked the district magistrate about it. The DM told her that Aikat was in charge of the arrangements and he had decided against it because so many girls riding cycles in front of the dais could have led to an accident. The chief minister apparently became upset after this and the officer was removed,” the WBCS association functionary said.
Aikat said he had received two letters from the home department this evening.
“One of the letters has asked me to report to the home (personnel and administrative reforms) department and join until further orders. Another letter has asked me to hand over charge to the CEO of ADDA (Asansol-Durgapur Development Authority), Antara Acharya,” he said.
An official in Calcutta said that the trend would further undermine the confidence of officers in the state. “We are unhappy and we are becoming tense that so many WBCS officers are in compulsory waiting. Some of them are senior officers with good track records. If this trend continues, officers will not feel confident about taking decisions on their own,” he said.
“If honesty and integrity do not count, it becomes difficult for WBCS officers to work. Unlike IAS officers, we don’t have the option to seek central deputation,” he added.
Burdwan district magistrate O.S. Meena said: “I have nothing to say on the matter.”
The official of the home department said Aikat had also been removed as commissioner of the Asansol Municipal Corporation (AMC) and managing director of the South Bengal State Transport Corporation (SBSTC).
The official said: “The CEO of the Asansol-Durgapur Development Authority (ADDA), Antara Acharya, has been asked to take over as ADM (Asansol) as well as the commissioner of the AMC. The post of the MD of SBSTC will remain vacant for the time being.”
Acharya said she had received a letter from the government today asking her to take over as ADM Asansol. “I will take charge as the ADM of Asansol soon,” she said.