“I am there to serve the public and reform the council” : Rikse Marak
Shillong, Dec 19: The non-payment of salaries for over 28 months has irked the Garo Hills council employees to an extent that they are demanding removal of the Secretary Rikse Marak.
The non-gazetted employee of the council under the banner of “Non-Gazetted Employees Association”, or NGEA has alleged that the attitude of the Secretary is not welcoming and hence she should be removed.
In an exclusive interview to Hub News, Marak said that she has been asked by the government to serve in the council to transform and reform the functioning of the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council.
“I am not victimized by any political pressure, as an officer I am there to serve the public. Infact, I am hoping for more challenges and better assignment. So there is no question of being victimized. Reforms and revolution bring such reactions,” Marak said, while explaining her role as a bureaucrat to manage the council affairs to her best abilities.
On an FIR filed by the NGEA against her, Marak said, “They are a non-registered organization and the FIR filed by them is illegal”.
An FIR by NGEA has been filed at Tura Police Station in West Garo Hills.
A copy of the FIR available with Hub News stated that the association was not happy with Marak as she had asked a staff member to take out an office file on a holiday. December 18 was a State holiday on account of U Soso Tham’s death anniversary.
NGEA has been protesting against council administration for the past few months with their core demand being release of pending salaries under the new revised pay scale.
“I have tried to clear the dues and salaries as and when possible with available funds,” Marak said, while explaining the position of the council funds, which are mainly collected through taxes of different forms and royalties.
Recently, the government had released Rs. 18 cr financial aid for initiating development and welfare projects, which the council staff are eyeing to be paid as salaries. However, the council administration has expressed their inability to do so.
“22 months back, when I joined as secretary in GHADC, there were a lot of challenges. The Chief Minister desired that council administration is streamlined. As an officer, I have been trying my best to serve the council and initiate necessary intervention to ensure efficient and smooth functioning in the council,” Marak asserted.
On challenges, Marak said that the staff strength was huge in GHADC, which she upon joining has downsized by proposing voluntary retirement.
“In the past few months, we have managed to downsize the strength from 2300 employees to about 1670 at present.”
On backlog in the payment of salaries, Marak said, “There was a backlog on salary payments for about 17 months from my joining till date i.e 22 months. I have managed to disburse 11 months salaries.”
Marak also said, “Prior to my joining as Secretary to the EC, there was a huge backlog in payment of gratuity and leave salary which I have been able to streamline to a great extent and that the gratuity and leave salary to the tune of almost Rs. 3 cr has been disbursed in these 22 months”.
She also informed that collection of revenue was also streamlined by reviving the single window system and introduction of the challan system. “The introduction of the challan system has somewhat made the collection of revenue systematic. The collection still needs to improve as there is pilferage and revenue is often lost due to lapses in the system,” Marak added.