Prasar bharati manpower shortage remains despite parliamentary strictures

Prasar bharati manpower shortage remains despite parliamentary strictures

NEW DELHI: Despite long agitation by various sections of staff in Prasar Bharati and even strong strictures by Parliamentary Committees, All India Radio and Doodarshan continue to suffer from massive shortage or sanction of trained manpower.

It is learnt by that a total of 46 low power transmitters are presently relaying partial transmission (including ten each in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa) and activities at 22 Doordarshan studio centres are limited.

Similarly, a total of 24 stations of All India Radio in different parts of the country are only working as relay kendras, while another five - Dharmanagar and Longtherai in Tripura, Dungarpur in Rajasthan, Rairangpur in Orissa, and Suryapet in Andhra Pradesh - are technically ready but not commissioned because of shortage or sanctioning of trained operational and maintenance staff.

Doordarshan at present has 66 studio centres and 1415 transmitters. In the case of AIR, stations are functioning at a total of 238 places. AIR has a total of 380 transmitters (177 FM, 149 MW, and 54 Short Wave).

Information and Broadcasting sources admitted to that some of the AIR transmitters were working sub-optimally as they had outlived their useful life of more than twenty years. Problems have also been faced in AIR because of shortage of staff.

The old transmitters are being replaced in phased manner with state-of-the-art Digital Technology Transmitters. Replacement or upgradation of 34 FM transmitters, 40 Medium Wave Transmitters, and five Short Wave transmitters have been taken up in the Eleventh Plan, and the quality is expected to improve after this work is completed.

Early in 2010, Prasar Bharati had been reprimanded for its lethargy in not finalising recruitment rules and failing to make recruitment in the Indian Broadcasting (Programme) Service started in 1990 to train a separate cadre of employees for All India Radio and Doordarshan. Towards the end of the year following an agitation by employees, a task force was set up to go into manpower and recruitment problems.

The Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women which had in 2009 given its report on ‘Working Conditions of women in Prasar Bharati‘ had in a strongly-worded Action Taken Report in February 2010 said it is "extremely unhappy with the callous approach of Prasar Bharati" and added that "after having a recruitment holiday of about twenty years, the organisation cannot afford to sink into further lethargy in finaliaing recruitment rules.‘ The committee viewed the delay seriously and reiterated that the recruitment process should not be delayed any further. All pre-requisites to initiate the process should be completed on a war footing," it added.

While the Committee welcomed the decision that all Central Government employees recruited for Akashvani or Doordarshan until 5 October 2007 are to be deemed as on deputation with effect from April 2000 until their retirement, it regretted that its recommendation in 2009 for finalisation of recruitment rules to implement this within three months had not been complied with.

It had observed in 2009 that there was a shortage of 44.8 per cent of the sanctioned strength in group ‘A‘ and about 40 per cent in Group ‘B‘ in Doordarshan, and 58.8 per cent of the posts in Group ‘A‘ were vacant in All India Radio. As many as 4629 posts in Doordarshan and 6433 posts in All India Radio remain unfilled.
It noticed that recruitment to the post of programme executives was last made 18 years earlier in 1991. The case is no different in various other categories of AIR and Doordarshan.

It had noted that there were 105 SC/ST vacancies in Doordarshan and 289 in AIR, which was a ‘matter of serious concern and anxiety‘ and should be rectified.

The Action Taken Report had also sought a clarification from the Ministry with regard to casual employees as it found the reply of the Ministry about two different schemes for regularization of casual employees to be contradictory to the reply given last year when it had said there was no approved scheme. The Committee had held Prasar Bharati guilty of unfair practices in not regularizing and not giving adequate remuneration to around 680 employees in Doordarshan and around 2200 in All India Radio who had been working as casual employees for up to 15 years in different capacities including news editors and news readers. The Report has also said that the limit of 72 days of engagement on casual basis is exploitative and unfair. The disparities in remuneration for casual employees should also be removed.

Referring to recruitment, it said employees should be kept in the grade for which they are selected and sufficient reasons should be given in writing to the candidates if there are any violations to this rule and appointees are taken at a lower grade. In all cases, persons who apply for a higher grade but are placed in a lower grade should be given their rightful grade within a period of three months of appointment. The Ministry should issue suitable directives to Prasar Bharati in this regard ‘with a view to ending exploitation of the hapless employees‘.

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