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TURA: The secretary to the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC), Rikse R Marak has lashed out at the Non-Gazetted Employees Association (NGEA) after the association accused her of allowing Council employees of doing contract work with the intention to withdraw funds before the upcoming holiday season.
The NGEA had earlier, through a press communiqué, alleged that the secretary had been indulging in rampant corruption despite administrative rule being imposed in the GHADC by giving contracts to two employees to beautify William Point at Tura in West Garo Hills.
They had further sought action against the Secretary on the issue by the state government.
“The allegations are baseless and libellous with the intention to malign. The work, they have pointed out, is being done departmentally through the Civil Works Department of the GHADC. No money has been released for the work done and it was only being done because of very pertinent reasons,” said Rikse.
Rikse 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 utilised from there was about 50 per cent, we have raised that to 90 per cent with 10 per cent being kept for incidentals,” she added.
Talking about the beautification project at Tura, the GHADC secretary said, 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 with 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.
Rikse added that she was contemplating to send 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, there were close to 2300 employees in the GHADC. Currently, there are only 1670 in the payroll.
The NGEA has been protesting in the offices of the GHADC seeking the removal of the secretary as well as the payment of their three months salary in the 5th pay scale. The protest reached the second day on Friday.
“They are exaggerating when they say that 32 months of salaries are due. It is for 28 months. The fact is that payments for even gratuity and leave salaries 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,” said Rikse.
Continued mismanagement of funds in 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, set behind by years. The situation has come to such that the Council is on the verge of collapsing on itself.
(Edited by Iban Mawrie)