The controversial GO was introduced on December 6, sparking widespread protests.

Protesters opposing Telangana GO 317 surrounding Minister Satyavathi Rathod
news Controversy Friday, January 14, 2022 - 12:30

The Adivasi Hakkula Porata Samithi Tudum Debba (AHPSTD), an organisation working for the welfare of Adivasis in Telangana submitted a memorandum to the Minister for Tribal Welfare Satyavathi Rathod and Forest Minister Indrakaran Reddy on Wednesday, January 12, demanding the government to revoke the controversial Government Order (GO) 317, which they say, has led to at least three suicides among government teachers in the recent past. Six other teachers have also died in the last few weeks due to various causes including heart attacks – deaths which the AHPSTD claims are also related to the GO. The order has led to widespread protests, particularly by Adivasis, who are of the opinion that the government’s move will affect the prospects of employment of people from Scheduled Tribes and deter the growth of the community.

GO 317 pertains to the Telangana Public Employment (organisation of local cadres and regulations of direct recruitment) which was introduced on December 6, 2021. Through the GO, the K Chandrasekhar Rao-led government introduced a zonal system in allocating jobs. The new system was necessitated as Telangana was reorganised into 33 districts from the existing 10 in 2016. Adivasis point out that GO 317 does not give preference to the local candidates in direct recruitment, which was assured in GO 124, issued by the Union government in 2018 and in place before GO 317.  

“95% of the posts – to be filled by direct recruitment at any time – in such cadre shall be reserved in favour of, and allocated amongst the local candidates in relation to each of the local areas […] in the ratio prescribed by the state government basing on the population of such local areas,” reads GO 124. However, there is no such clause in the present GO.

In their memorandum to the ministers, the AHPSTD wrote that the GO was implemented “without considering at least the mentioned factors like administrative requirements, age of the individuals, a balance in seniority, service rendered in that local area, linguistic proficiency and awareness of laws in GO 124. The government is only considering the factor of seniority — even then not the entire [tenure of] service but just in the cadre service — and carrying out the whole process undemocratically. This is an example of the government’s arbitrary policies.” 

The Adivasis claim that the seniority list prepared by the government is full of errors, and officials are not rectifying them. “They claim that nothing is in their hands and say that all these changes have to be made by the Chief Secretary,” says AHPSTD’s memo. Since the entire process is centralised, there is no scope to even rectify typographical errors, the protesting Adivasis allege. They also expressed disappointment at the government’s attitude, i.e., paying no heed to the concerns raised by teachers who have been protesting against the GO’s implementation. 

Several teachers’ associations, under the umbrella of Upadhyaya Sanghala Porata Committee (UPSC), have been demanding that the government repeal the GO. Their primary concern is that the government has completely ignored the nativity of the employees and is transferring them to neighboring districts. Recently, a 35-year-old woman in Nizamabad district died by suicide allegedly over her transfer. The deceased, B Saraswathi, a resident of Babapur village, Nizamabad, was transferred to Kamareddy district. Upset over the decision, the second-grade teacher eventually took the extreme step, according to her family members.

Besides these issues, the protesting Adivasis point out that GO 317 is a general one without any exceptions for Scheduled Areas, (also known as Agency areas) with tribal population. They fear that GO 317 would dilute the protection given to Adivasis under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution, as the GO does not specify Adivasi agency area-specific allotment of cadres. Agency areas are specially protected zones. Under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution, Adivasis areas have certain special provisions, and any decision taken there needs to have the President's assent.

“The GO allows mainland government employees to move to tribal agency areas. Our apprehension is that the many mainland employees working in agency areas would hesitate to go back to their native districts because they would not be senior enough for their cadre posts there,” said Godam Ganesh, president of AHPSTD. “They may continue to work in agencies and affect the prospects of Adivasis getting employment.” 

Besides employment, the other major concern of the Adivasis is that the people from the mainland will not be culturally sensitive in agency areas. “Non-Adivasis becoming locals and buying property in agency areas will also jeopardize our culture and traditions. Already several such violations have been happening,” Ganesh said.

Opposing the GO, the Adivasis had organised various kinds of protests, including observing a one-day bandh in Adilabad district.  “We will continue to protest until our concerns are resolved,” Ganesh said.

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