On January 5 this year, Jayashree, who was employed with a government power distribution company in Telangana as a JAO (Junior Accounts Officer), received her relieving orders from her employers. She was one among 655 employees from different power companies across Telangana who were relieved from their posts, and were asked to join power utilities in Andhra Pradesh.
However, when they did show up in Andhra Pradesh for their new postings, the Andhra power companies refused to absorb them. But this hardly came as a surprise, since this was a stand from which the Andhra power companies havenâ€™t budged for a long time, Jayashree and many others like her have now been left with uncertainty over their jobs and salaries.
The 655 relieved employees were among 1,157 people who were previously relieved by the Telangana power companies in 2015, a year after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. They were chosen on the basis of their place of birth, education and recruitment, which suggested that they were natives of Andhra Pradesh.
With a High Court order contesting the relieving orders, these 1,157 employees, including Jayashree, were temporarily absorbed back into the Telangana companiesâ€™ payroll. â€śBack in 2017, we were asked to choose between Andhra and Telangana, before any employee allocation guidelines were formed. I chose Andhra Pradesh thinking it would be easy for my family to move there,â€ť says Jayashree, who has worked in the power sector for the past 20 years.
The Supreme Court then appointed the one-man Justice DM Dharmadhikari committee to complete the process of employee allocation between the two states. While the committee was expected to conclude its decision within six months, the final decision was announced in December 2019 after many deliberations and disagreements from both sides.
With the committee deciding that 655 of the 1,157 relieved employees be allocated to Andhra Pradesh (613 of them had opted for Andhra while 42 had refrained from choosing either state), Telangana companies relieved these employees in January, but Andhra companies have refused to absorb them stating that they cannot afford to create such a huge number of additional posts and bear their salaries and other expenses. They have insisted that they will absorb the employees only if a similar number of existing Andhra employees are sent to Telangana.
With the Andhra companies refusing to budge, and the committee failing to arrive at a mutually agreeable decision, Jayashree and others like her are anxious about their jobs and salaries. â€śMy husband also works in the public sector. Back when I had opted for Andhra, we thought it would be easy for him to be transferred. But things have changed since then. Now if posted to Andhra, I might have to move with my daughter alone to a new town,â€ť says Jayashree, adding that many women, including herself, had written to DM Dharmadhikari to make exceptions for female employees with spouses working in Telangana but failed to elicit a response.
â€śEven if it wasnâ€™t possible to address individual problems, the committee shouldâ€™ve at least come to a lasting conclusion with the managements and not made us suffer,â€ť says Deepthi, who has also worked at the TSSPDCL for many years now.
Some of the relieved employees who had chosen their options back in 2017, as per High Court directions, say that they did so reluctantly, and were unaware that the decision would be considered final and binding while making the final allocations. After the Dharmadhikari committee was appointed, the remaining employees, apart from these 1,157, were once again asked to state their preferences for allocation. The relieved employees feel that this process shouldâ€™ve included them as well, and the committee shouldâ€™ve carried out an overall reallocation of all employees, regardless of the filtering process previously followed by the Telangana companies.
The situation is now back to where it was five years back, when they were first relieved, says Jayashree. Many employees blame the Dharmadhikari committee for failing to re-allocate employees in a fair and satisfactory manner. â€śThey claimed that it was a transparent process and everything was made public, but many representations sent by employees donâ€™t seem to have been considered in the decision-making process,â€ť one of the relieved employees said.
With the allocation process being heavily delayed already, some of the relieved employees claim that they were also sidelined during promotions. Murthy, an Assistant Divisional Engineer (ADE) with the TSSPDCL, retired in 2018 after 17 years of service. â€śAs we kept waiting for allocations, we were bypassed for promotions. If I had been absorbed in Andhra, I would have had two more years of service left. But now, that has also ended on January 31, 2020,â€ť he says, adding that many others like him have lost out on promotions and other benefits.
Keshava Reddy, who was relieved while serving as an Executive Engineer, also claims that he has been denied a promotion for five years. â€śThe relieving orders should not have been issued without having proper reposting orders in the first place,â€ť he says.
Keshava Reddy has also expressed disappointment with the committeeâ€™s recommendations. â€śAt this point, we donâ€™t mind working in either states, but the the allocation has to be done properly and as per the law,â€ť he says.
â€śBarring the employees of those companies which were not affected by the bifurcation, the reallocation should've been done for all the remaining employees and not just the 1,157 of us who were forcefully relieved,â€ť he goes on to say, adding that the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act suggests that the division of staff must be done according to the population ratio of the states.
The Supreme Court has once again deferred the final decision in the matter of employee allocation and salary disbursal to relieved employees, to the Dharmadhikari committee. The committee met with representatives of the state power companies on Sunday, but is yet to declare its decision on the matter, while Jayashree and many others like here are left anxious and uncertain about their future.