In line with the state government’s drive to clear government quarters of illegal occupants, the state Public Works Department (PWD) had recently issued a general notification asking all those who are allotted government quarters to submit the place of posting of job and permanent address within the next 20 days.
As we highlighted earlier, the government should also look into the aspect of whether the right people or the most deserving are getting government quarters. The first step was verification of whether the quarters are being occupied by those who were allotted or by some other people. It is common knowledge that, many government quarters are not actually occupied by the government servants to whom the quarters are allotted to but they either sub-let it to relatives or some others.
The government had earlier warned that all illegal occupants of government allotted quarters in the state will be evicted and those government employees who rent out their allotted quarters to others with suspension or even termination. Verification drives were carried out by several teams along with police and several employees had been suspended for flouting norms. On the other hand, getting a government quarter is not an easy task and it requires patronage or pressure from high ranking officials and powerful politicians to be allotted one.
ALSO READ: Submit place of posting, permanent address of employees occupying government quarters: PWD
Even among the ministers and MLAs, there is always a mad rush for coveted government quarters in the heart of Imphal. For outstation MLAs or ministers it is alright to seek government quarters, but politicians who have their own residences in Imphal city or its outskirts it is a luxury. The Quarter Allotment Rule 1994 stipulates that any employee who is residing within 8 km from Imphal should not be allotted government quarters. However, this rule is being followed more in violation. So, we understand that this second step is to verify whether Imphal residents or those residing in district headquarters are being allotted government quarters which should have been given to more deserving outstation employees.
It is known that, once the quarters are allotted the ministers or MLAs make it a point to undertake repairing of the quarters while also making additions and repairing in their personal residences at the expense of the public exchequer. It is not only about MLAs and ministers but for quarters allotted to high ranking officials and every year a huge amount is being incurred in repairing works. And it seems there is no official mechanism to check the requirement of such repairs and the costs.
It is the same in all government quarters and anyone could alter the shape and structure of the quarters or make extensions without the express permission of the controlling authority, which is sadly the Building Divisions of the state PWD.
ALSO READ: Government Quarters: 13 IPS officers nominated for verification team
Normally, it is required of them to seek permission before any alterations are made. There is certainly a need for auditing these illegal repairs and if any default is found the concerned official should be made to bear the costs of repair. This should be the third step. Along with this, a special drive to check the mushrooming growth of illegal churches and other religious structures within the compounds of government quarters should be taken up in right earnest.
To say that, the concerned PWD division is not aware of such alterations or violation of government norms would be like condoning their irresponsibility. Suspension of government employees is alright, but the government also needs to take action against the officers responsible who had been turning a blind eye to all these illegal activities.
Lastly, the government also needs to look into the lack of government quarters at the sub-division level where officials had to look for accommodation at the village chief’s house. Chief Minister N Biren Singh had begun constructing common accommodation facilities for government officials in the interior areas in his last term, but it was basically for doctors and nurses besides teachers. It is also needed for officials dealing with administration also.