The Fact News Service
Chandigarh, September 1
Punjab revenue officials on Friday went on an indefinite strike in those revenue circles where they have been given “additional” responsibilities.
A union leader representing the ‘patwaris’ (revenue officials) said they were not undertaking any work related to additional charges allocated to them in 3,193 revenue circles but were discharging their duties related to other circles, including that of flood relief.
Punjab ‘patwaris’, who had earlier threatened a pen-down strike, appeared to soften their stand on Thursday, saying they will attend work in their own revenue circles but not take on any additional responsibilities.
Representatives of the state’s revenue officers—patwaris and kanungos—had also claimed that this was not a climbdown and the work in several hundred revenue circles will be affected from Friday.
They had also announced they will move the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the state government’s decision to invoke the East Punjab Essential Services (Maintenance) Act (EPESMA).
The revenue officers, under the banner of the Revenue Patwar Union, had called for the strike following the registration of a corruption case against a patwari and a kanungo in Sangrur district a week ago.
The patwaris claimed that before registration of the case, the approvals of the Deputy Commissioner and the Financial Commissioner were not taken.
“There are 3,193 Patwar (revenue) circles and 291 Kanunga circles observing strike. The government is paying us for the work of 1,522 patwar circles and 412 Kanunga circles and we are doing that work,” Revenue Patwar Union president Harvir Singh Dhindsa said on Friday.
He said the revenue officials were not working in the circles where they were given additional responsibilities. “Our strike is indefinite. We are not going back on our decision, whether the government invokes EPESMA or any other provision,” Dhindsa said.
Meanwhile, officials said the Deputy Commissioners have been asked to ensure that the public does not suffer due to the strike.
According to the union, there are 4,716 revenue circles in Punjab but only 1,523 patwaris. They undertake the work of the circle where they are posted and also in 3,193 additional circles.
Dhindsa had earlier said that if any officer tried to burden them with additional work, they would move the high court against the violation of their “human rights”.
Sukhwinder Singh Sukhi, general secretary of Punjab’s Revenue Patwar Union, said the appointment of new patwaris was also one of the demands of the union.
On Wednesday, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had, through the Chief Secretary, directed the Financial Commissioner of revenue to invoke the provisions of the Act so that criminal proceedings could be launched against employees in case they went on a strike at a time when the state was grappling with floods.