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Stress at work begins to tell

Khoirashol, Aug. 25: A block development officer in Birbhum has applied for voluntary retirement citing failing health and workload, but several district officials said “pressure” from Trinamul factions to get contracts could have prompted the move.

Mohammed Ishrar, who was made the BDO of strife-torn Khoirashol in 2012, has sought retirement at 52, eight years before the official age for state government employees.

“My health is failing and I can’t take this workload. That’s why I have applied for voluntary retirement,” said Ishrar, who has been a government employee for over 20 years.

Ishrar did not clarify what he meant by “workload”, but several administrative officials and other BDOs The Telegraph spoke to said they were under tremendous pressure regarding whom to award contracts at the grassroots level because of multiple competing factions of Trinamul.

“Each wants us to award the contract to them. What to do? How to handle such pressure?” a district administrative official said.

Khoirashol, where Ishrar was posted as the BDO since 2012, has witnessed the murders of two former block presidents of Trinamul — Ashok Ghosh and Ashok Mukherjee. Party insiders have said the murders were the fallout of factional feud.

A deputy district magistrate said the recent projects announced by the government, such as Kanyashree, Yuvashree and others, had compounded the problem because they meant awarding more contracts and floating tenders.

Told about Ishrar’s decision to seek voluntary retirement, a BDO in West Midnapore said: “Political pressure is the main problem. Wherever I go, I see factions of the ruling party. Each group comes to me to get people loyal to them registered under one scheme or the other. I have a tough time awarding contracts for road projects. I can’t satisfy everybody. Many people buckle under this pressure.”

According to a Birbhum official, an officer in the rank of a BDO gets Rs 40,000 a month as salary.

“If he (Ishrar) would have continued in the post till 60, he would have earned at least Rs 60,000 a month. But if he takes voluntary retirement, he will get between Rs 16,000 and Rs 18,000 as monthly pension.”