The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has suggested that the government consider offering a higher salary to attract suitable technical manpower to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Currently, the ASI is facing a steep lack of manpower as a total of 2,914 posts across all groups are lying vacant with it.
The suggestion for increasing “the bar of salaries” came after the Union culture ministry told the panel that the ASI has been facing “difficulties” in attracting suitable candidates for technical posts lying vacant with it, as those with required qualifications get higher salaries in universities than what is offered at the ASI under the central government.
“All out efforts may be made by the ministry by raising the bar of salaries to attract technical manpower, which would enable them to fill up the vacancies of technical sides,” the PAC, headed by the Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, recommended in its report tabled in Parliament during the ongoing Winter Session.
The panel also advised the culture ministry to pursue the matter at the “highest level.”
“Otherwise, the very purpose of the existence of the ASI would be defeated,” it added.
Before suggesting the government to consider revising the pay structures for the technical posts, however, the PAC rapped the culture ministry for its failure to fill up the vacancies at the ASI.
“The committee is not happy to note the position in regard to filling up of vacancies on a few major grounds. The staff strength which has been conveyed to the committee is as old as 18 months. It is evident that vacant posts in all groups are as high as 34.6%,” the committee noted in its report, rejecting the ministry's reply on the issue.
It noted that the emphasis of the ministry “seemed to be” filling up posts of the MTS (Multi Tasking Staff) rather than filling up the technical posts which are the “backbone” of the ASI.
“More emphasis should be given to the recruitment of technical experts rather than auxiliary manpower. Only then the full potential and service delivery of the ASI would come into light,” the panel the stated.
The PAC also took note of “an inordinate delay” in filling up two posts of full-time members and five posts of part-time members in the National Monuments Authority (NMA), which are lying vacant for the last three years.
It sought “a detailed explanation” from the culture ministry along with a note explaining as to why “such a lapse” should not be construed as “misleading to a parliamentary committee," rejecting the ministry's reply that action had already been initiated by the NMA.