Calcutta, March 20: The government today shunted 19 block development officers (BDOs) to “insignificant” posts allegedly after some ministers complained that the officers refused to clear beneficiary lists of schemes without verifying them.
Sources said the government transferred the BDOs before the panchayat polls and did not give them any posting probably because it did not want the officers to play any role in the elections.
BDOs act as returning officers for the gram panchayat and panchayat samiti polls and as additional returning officers at the zilla parishad level.
Joint BDOs, who are much junior officers, will take charge of the 19 blocks as no replacement will be made now.
The sources said so many BDOs had never been transferred at one go earlier.
A BDO who was transferred said he was “under pressure” to clear a beneficiary list submitted by a minister for the Indira Awaas Yojana. “But I did not do that without verifying the list properly,” the official said.
Senior Writers’ officials said most of the shunted BDOs had refused to clear beneficiary lists forwarded by ministers, MLAs or panchayats without verification.
Writers’ sources said some district magistrates had started lodging complaints with their seniors, saying they would face trouble conducting the rural polls without the BDOs.
According to an order issued by the personnel and administrative reforms department last evening, the 19 BDOs (four from Birbhum, four from West Midnapore, three from Cooch Behar, two from South 24-Parganas and one each from Jalpaiguri, Murshidabad, Hooghly, Malda, Howrah and Purulia) were transferred overnight.
“Most of these BDOs are yet to complete their tenure in the blocks. But none of them was sent to any other block. They have been told to report to the district headquarters, where they will have no work,” a senior state government official said.
Another official said: “The placement of the shunted officers makes it clear that the state government does not want them to play any role in the rural polls. Perhaps, they had earned the wrath of ruling party leaders.”
The official said the changes were made following “instructions” from chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
The joint BDOs will now have to handle poll-related work such as accepting nominations, scrutinising them and conducting the polls. Officials said the joint BDOs were not experienced enough for the job.
Senior WBCS officers today expressed dissatisfaction with the shunting. Some of them said they had urged the government to reconsider the decision as it could hit the morale of the entire cadre.