The Secretary to the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC), Rikse R Marak, has lashed out at the Non Gazetted Employees Association (NGEA) after it accused her of allowing council employees to do contract work with the intention of withdrawing funds before the upcoming holiday season.
The NGEA had earlier alleged that the Secretary had been indulging in rampant corruption despite Administrator’s Rule being imposed in the GHADC by giving two employees – Nachy Ch Marak (Superintendent of the General Department) and Bandi D Marak (Finance Department) – contracts to beautify William Point in Tura.
Pointing to the Meghalaya Service (Discipline and Appeal) Rules 2011 where it is stated that no government servant is allowed to engage in any other business or contract work and are liable to face disciplinary action, they had sought action against the Secretary.
The NGEA has been protesting in the offices of the GHADC, seeking the removal of the Secretary as well as the payment of three months’ salary at the fifth pay scale. The protest reached the second day today.
“The allegations are baseless and libelous with the intention to malign. The work they have pointed out is being done departmentally through the Civil Works department of GHADC. No money has been released for the work done and it was only being done because of very pertinent reasons,” said Marak after being made aware of the press note by the NGEA.
She said that there was opposition to work being done by her as things were getting harder to manipulate in the GHADC.
“Since I have joined the GHADC, we have streamlined the entire system to ensure more clarity. Of the 22 months that I have been here, we have managed to pay the employees 11 months’ salary. We have set up a single window for all collections so that the money goes directly to the treasury. While earlier the amount utilized from there was about 50%, we have raised that to 90% with 10% being kept for incidentals,” she added.
“William Point in Tura is in the heart of the town and needed immediate upliftment. We decided that it would be done through the department itself as we did not want to be following up with contractors. Another retaining wall, which was on the verge of collapse, is also being repaired. The contract work being done is the bare minimum as we don’t want these public places to collapse. Are we supposed to let these go without taking care of them?” she asked.
Marak added that she was contemplating a representation to the state government to release her from the GHADC.
As per information received from sources, when the GHADC Secretary took over 22 months ago, there were close to 2,300 employees in the GHADC. Currently there are only 1,670 on the payroll.
“They are exaggerating when they say that 32 months of salaries are due. It is 28 months. The fact is that payments for even gratuity and leave were not paid over the last decade. We did our bit and made payments of over Rs 3.5 crore to retired personnel. While it may not be the entire thing, it is still a start,” Marak said.
Continued mismanagement of funds received by the GHADC over the past decade has led to an unprecedented fund crisis in the council, which has now led to employees being left without salaries and contract payments behind by years. The situation has come to such that the council is on the verge of collapsing on itself.