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Himachal Agri Dept's Smooth Operation Hampered Due to Severe Staff Shortage; 1,165 Out of 2,852 Posts Vacant: Data

According to data obtained from the agriculture department, the Himachal Agriculture Department is facing a severe staff shortage, with 40% of vacant positions in various categories. According to officials, a total of 1,165 positions out of 2,852 are vacant, which is impeding the department's smooth operation.

Shivam Dwivedi
The situation is no better on the clerical side, with both technical & non-technical staff overworked
The situation is no better on the clerical side, with both technical & non-technical staff overworked

As many as 122 out of 328 posts of Agriculture Development Officers, 17 out of 71 posts of Subject Matter Specialists (SMS), 285 out of 700 posts of Agriculture Extension Officers, 30 out of 60 posts of Assistant Agriculture Development Officers, and 26 out of 38 posts of Laboratory Assistants are vacant, jeopardizing the department's ability to function.

All of these officials, they said, are the link between farmers and the department, and they play an important role in keeping farmers up to date on the latest technology, guiding them on the effects of weather changes, fertility of land, sowing and harvesting, and introducing new disease resistant and low water consuming crop varieties.

Because Himachal Pradesh is primarily a rural and agricultural state with farmers relying on rains for cultivation, the role of these officials in assisting farmers is critical, according to the officials. 92 out of 140 Junior Office Assistant (IT) positions, 36 out of 84 Junior Engineers positions, 64 out of 113 driver positions, all 12 tractor driver positions, all five machine man positions, and 35 out of 67 Chowkidar positions are also vacant.

The situation is no better on the clerical side, with both technical and non-technical staff overworked. They are concerned that posts that have been vacant for a long time may be considered superfluous and eliminated, depriving employees of advancement in feeder positions, according to department officials.

Five out of six Patwari posts, which verify land ownership, map the areas of various crops, and conduct 'Girdawari' in case of natural calamities to assess crop loss, are vacant, according to Kishore from Arki, a farmer from Solan district. Recently, 119 Agriculture Extension Officer (AEO) positions were filled through promotion and 22 through direct recruitment, while an Agriculture Officer (AO) case is still pending in court.

The HP Public Service Commission Shimla is conducting interviews for 52 Agriculture Development Officer (ADO) positions through direct recruitment (on a contract basis), according to Director Agriculture B R Takhi, who added that the department is taking the necessary steps to fill the vacant positions through promotions.

Agriculture Minister Chander Kumar informed that the department is being streamlined and that all vacant positions, including those of retired employees, will be filled gradually. "Our government is committed to filling all vacant positions in line departments so that public welfare work can move forward," he added.

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