Phurpa Lhamo

Around ten foresters of Thimphu Forest Division and Department of Forest and Park Services, who were recently issued an excess staff deployment order, appealed to the director of the DoFPS.

The foresters were identified as excess and were notified the projects or works they were in charge would be closed.

According to a forester who had been transferred, the redeployment wasn’t fair.

She claimed it was discriminatory. “I am told the transfer was part of the organizational development (OD) exercise, but since the OD exercise began, the forest division had accepted and retained many who were identified for transfer earlier.”

A press release from the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) on February 25 stated that in the 12th Plan staffing, 187 civil servants, whose positions were no longer required or could be multi-tasked, were identified as ‘excess.’

It stated that most of the staff identified excess were from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests and Ministry of Works and Human Settlement.

“The excess staff have been redeployed to suitable vacancies across agencies to ensure optimal utilisation and offset the need for recruiting new staff for existing vacancies,” the press release stated.

Meanwhile, the request of the foresters was not approved. The decision was passed after an HRC meeting on February 18.

The foresters said they plan to further appeal to the secretary and the RCSC.

A forester said that while she was informed that the project she was overlooking would be closed, there was no written letter to indicate the closure.

The foresters also pointed out that the department had also developed criteria to help identify individuals for transfer.

Criteria shared with them on social media platforms listed the number of years served in the same location, marital and spouse for working purposes, and children with disabilities needing special care education among others.

A forester who had been in Thimphu for less than six or seven years said that there were employees who were in Thimphu for more than 15 and 20 years.

Quoting a provision of the Bhutan civil service rules and regulation’s chapter 14, which states that the human resource committee of the parent agency shall develop a transfer guideline which is fair, transparent and aligned to the provision of the BCSR and shall be endorsed by RCSC, she said the transfer had not been fair, transparent and followed the guidelines because the committee of the parent agency didn’t do any consultation with the working agency and instead transfer orders have been issued on adhoc during the lockdown.

She also claimed that there was no consultation and marital status had not been considered.

Another forester said that she had a son who was diagnosed schizophrenia and needed assistance.

In the appeal letters submitted earlier to the director, most appealed on health ground.

“This came unannounced during the lockdown and we weren’t even informed about it,” said a forester.

The RCSC’s press release stated that the 187 civil servants would have to join the new place of posting within one month of the date of the transfer order.

Many are worried about finding transportation, student’s school transfer and accommodation in the new place amid the pandemic.