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Fate of Suwidha Centres' staff in Punjab looks to be dark
HARISH DIDO | 24 Dec 2014

With an aim to provide better services to the people at their doorsteps, the government is likely to open new Service Centres in the State. But the fate of Suwidha Centres' staff in Punjab, providing various services to the people, governed under Punjab State E-Governance programme through Sukhmani Society (Regd.) registered under Societies Act 1860 at the district headquarters, looks to be dark with the shifting of entire work by outsourcing to an agency under the name of Unified Service Providing Centres to be known as "Seva Kendar" as under the new scheme, there is no mention of taking over the existing more than1000 staff working in the existing Suwidha Centres.

These Suwidha Centres are headed by Deputy Commissioner as Chairman with other government officers as its members.

In Ferozepur, since 2004, seven Suwidha Centres are presently working at Ferozepur District HQ and at Tehsil level at Ferozepur, Guruharsahai, Zira, Makhu, Talwandi and Mamdot being run by 41 employees on a consolidated wages and the monthly wage bill is around Rs.4.23 lakh against the total collection of about Rs.10 lakh.  Out of this, 15 percent goes to the Punjab Government.

The Suwidha Centres are presently providing 149 services including 24 services and through Unified Service providing Centres (USPC) the number of services would increase to 223.

It may be mentioned that the new USPCs which would provided services to the three villages at one Centre too is not sure to be successful as earlier also the Common Service Centres (CSC) and Gram Suwidha Centre (GSC) has been flop-show.

At the time of engagement of this staff through proper channel by giving advertisement, taking the written test and selection after proper interview following the required procedure and the minimum qualification required was Plus 2.

The Suwidha Centre staff had been representing from time to time, for regularization of their services by taking them on rolls of the government by taking the 100% collections at these centres.

In a memorandum to the Chief Minister, it is stated that Rs.25 crore is lying in the accounts of the societies in all the 22 districts and amount sent to the Punjab Government so far is around Rs.20 crore and this income is increasing simultaneously as all the services under the Right to Service Act have been made available at the Suwidha Centres on payment.

As per the sources, the outsourcing agency has kept the minimum qualification as graduation for the staff to be engaged in the Service Centre whereas in Suwidha Centre it was Plus 2. Thus, the existing staff cannot be adjusted by the outsourcing agency and some of them are over age and young married would be on road.

 On anonymity, one of the employees said, the government is doing all this in a very unplanned manner while sitting in the closed door chambers without studying the ground realities. He further said, when a deputation of Suwidha Centre had gone to meet Directorate of Governance Reforms Punjab, a blank and straightway reply was "By law there is no hope for you".

Punjab State Suwidha Employees Union in a memorandum to Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister, Punjab had threatened to proceed on indefinite strike after 1st January, in case their demand for permanent absorbtion on the PICTUS Society in Education Department, are not accepted, while seeking a time has been sought for a meeting.

The District Administration, when contact, confirmed the new arrangements and opening of new centres but mum over the fate of the existing staff.