October 23, 2011

‘Unfit to drive’, 156 fire engine drivers hired by Left told to take a retest

Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay

INDIAN EXPRESS, Posted online: Thu Oct 20 2011, 02:37 hrs

Kolkata: The West Bengal government has ordered a retest for a batch of 156 engine drivers of the Fire Service department who got their jobs about eight months ago after going through all necessary tests.

The order was issued by Indevar Pandey, Principal Secretary, Fire department, some time back after Director of Fire Services Gopal Bhattacharya wrote to the government that 27 of the 156 drivers, who were recruited during the fag end of Left Front rule, were not fit to drive fire engines and were recruited without proper tests.

Since the 27 could not be singled out, the fire department called all the 156 for a retest of their driving skills.

“The tests are going on. I will not say anything more on this,” Bhattacharya told The Indian Express.

The move, however, has not gone down well with a section of officials believing that it could lead to complications.

“If any of the drivers goes to court, the government would be in a fix as they were taken in after all the tests, including medical. Apart from that they are in service and have been receiving salary for the past eight months. How can you take a retest now? What will you do if any of them disqualifies,” asked one official.

In another mysterious development, the complaint sent by Bhattacharya to the Secretary was on Wednesday found missing from the file.

“This must have been an insider job, somebody is trying to shield the man or group of men who were responsible for those appointments during the Left Front government,” said one official.

The Fire Department is facing a leadership crisis as Pandey, who handles two other departments as well - Home (Personnel) and Disaster Management — hardly finds any time it.

“He never sits in his office in the Fire Department. Many projects and plans have fallen. The department is in doldrums,’’ an official alleged.

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