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Official apathy puts a spoke in the priests’ wheel

Official apathy puts a spoke in the priests’ wheel
Highlights

Its been more than eight months since the government issued a GO to ensure minimum emoluments to Archakas priests and other employees working with the...

Warangal: It’s been more than eight months since the government issued a GO to ensure minimum emoluments to Archakas (priests) and other employees working with the assessable temples across the State. However, the issue continues to drag on for reasons unknown, if not obvious.

The demand for salaries through treasury dates back to the times of undivided Andhra Pradesh. Soon after the formation of the new State, the TRS government assured Telangana Archaka Udyoga JAC of looking into the issue. After waiting for about a year, the JAC resorted to a three-day protest in June 2015 and an 11-day protest a couple of months later.

Following which the government has constituted a three-member committee headed by the Joint Secretary (Finance) ChV Sai Prasad to study the modalities for the payment of salaries through treasury. It took nine months for the committee to submit to the government. Then it was alleged that the delay was due to Endowment Department’s failure to provide the details of the priests and employees.

The issue didn’t end here as the government constituted a Cabinet Sub-Committee headed by Endowments Minister A Indrakaran Reddy with Ministers Tummala Nageswara Rao, Talasani Srinivas Yadav, Jupally Krishna Rao and Naini Narasimha Reddy as members to make recommendations on it.

As the issue continued to drag on, the JAC yet again threatened to go on strike from July 5, 2017. However, the JAC held back its decision when the government promised to speed up the issue again.

Against this backdrop, the government finally issued a GO 577 on September 15, 2017. The GO said that pay scale comparable to pay revision commission (PRC) 2015 may be extended to all the qualified categories of 5,625 employees working on full time basis in the 646 assessable temples.

There are 3,198 contract, nominal muster roll (NMR), consolidated and other employees in a total of 5,625. The government also ordered necessary measures in respect of 3,198 contract, nominal muster roll (NMR), consolidated and other employees out of the 5,625.

In addition to this, the GO also paved way for sanction of additional cadre strength to the temples wherever required and fixation of pay in relaxation of the existing orders relating to ban on appointments as a one-time measure.

In order to meet the above commitment in the temples that have inadequate income, the government has also decided to provide grant-in-aid through the Dharmika Parishad. The GO also stated that all the process would be completed so as to operationalise salaries from the month of November 2017, payable on December 1, 2017.

Against this backdrop, the Endowment Department has only implemented the pay scale as per the GO to only 780 as against 5,625 Archakas and other employees. And this too was stopped after six months, it’s learnt.

Speaking to The Hans India, the Archaka Udyoga JAC Warangal (undivided) district president DVR Sharma said: “Although we have met the officials for the implementation of the GO in toto, there was no response. Citing that they were understaffed, the Endowment officials say that benefit to others was put on hold due to various reasons such as delay in refixation of cadre strength.”

Left with no choice, we have given the strike notice to the authorities and as of now we have been protesting wearing black badges. If the government fails to address the issue, the staff will intensify its stir by stopping Arjitha sevas from August 9, he said.

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