Two years after a special cell for road safety was created in Maharashtra under the transport commissioner office, 14 out of its total 16 posts are still lying vacant, officials have said.
State Transport Minister Anil Parab, however, attributed this delay to the coronavirus pandemic.
Maharashtra is one of the worst-hit states in terms of road accidents. In 2020, the state had witnessed 25,456 road accidents and 11,452 fatalities.
Officials in the Maharashtra Motor Vehicles Department said that acting on the Supreme Court's directive, the state government had set up the lead agency (special cell) for road safety in December 2018 to handle the state-wide road safety-related activities and created 16 new posts, including a joint transport commissioner (Road Safety) for it.
Of these, five posts are supposed to be filled on deputation, whereas the remaining supervisory and clerical posts were on contractual basis, the officials said.
The five posts of the officers that should be filled through deputation are- joint transport commissioner, deputy transport commissioner, assistant commissioner of police, executive engineer (PWD) and public relations officer.
A senior official said that so far, only two of these posts- that of assistant commissioner of police and executive engineer- have been filled, while the remaining three posts are lying vacant.
"The additional charge of the remaining three vacant posts were given to other officers of the transport commissioner office, who were already under burden of additional charge of some other posts," he said.
Another officer said that 11 other posts that have to be filled on contract basis are also lying vacant and some RTO inspectors and clerks from the transport commissioner office were given the responsibility of these posts.
A retired officer said that the transport commissioner office is trying to appoint a senior consultant for road safety on contract basis even as the regular posts created for the lead agency are lying vacant.
An advertisement for the post was issued in October 2020.
"What this senior consultant is going to do when the required posts of officers and staffers of the lead agency are vacant? Whom will he give advice?" he asked.
When asked about the vacant posts of the lead agency, minister Parab said the last one year got "wasted" due to coronavirus pandemic, due to which the posts kept lying vacant.
"I would like to assure that the cell (lead agency) will work with full force this year," he said.