Chandigarh: Sticking to their stand, the Punjab revenue staff on Friday went on an indefinite pen-down strike despite the warning of Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and the invocation of the East Punjab Essential Services (Maintenance) Act (ESMA) barring all the government employees from leaving their place of posting till further orders.
Over 2,000 employees under the aegis of the Revenue Patwar Union and Revenue Kanungo Association, had called for the said strike from Friday over an alleged corruption case registered against a patwari and a kanungo in Sangrur district recently and the CM had warned them that they could lose their job and the state Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government had invoked ESMA.
Notably, the special chief secretary, the revenue department, K A P Sinha had on Friday held – after invoking ESMA - that any violation of the order shall attract strict penal provisions under ESMA – which could lead to dismissal from service and imprisonment for up to three years.
ESMA order highlights urgent need for flood relief & essential services
Sinha’s order had also stated that due to floods, immediate disbursement of relief material was needed for the affected population and that the services of revenue officials including patwaris, kanungos, and circle revenue officials at the deputy commissioners offices were required for the maintenance of essential supplies and relief material, disbursal of crop compensation to the farmers, etc.
However, according to media reports, the employees’ leaders held that they would only do the flood-related work in the patwar circle areas where they were posted and not any other areas where circles where patwaris’ posts were lying vacant. For the record, there are said to be about 4,700 revenue circles while patwaris are posted in about 1,500 circles. They said that the government was forcing them to work more and was not willing to fill the vacancies. They further held they were not going back on their decision on the indefinite strike whether the government invoked ESMA or any other provisions.
They had also announced they would also move the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the state government’s decision to invoke the ESMA. Meanwhile, it may also be recalled that the DC office employees association has also threatened to observe a pen-down strike from September 11 to 13 to press for their various demands.