Unemployed agricultural graduates seek LG Manoj Sinha’s intervention to repeal ‘draconian SRO

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Srinagar: The Unemployed Agricultural Graduates Association of Jammu and Kashmir (UAGAJK) has expressed deep concern over the escalating unemployment crisis faced by the agricultural graduates in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Association highlighted the Government’s lack of attention, inadequate policies and the failure to fill vacant positions in the J&K Agriculture Production Department, which have intensified the unemployment situation for Agricultural graduates, post graduates, doctoral and post-doctoral students.

According to UAGAJK, the Government of Jammu & Kashmir introduced SRO-442 in the APD on October 23, 2017, which made draconian amendments to the recruitment process for Junior Agriculture Extension Officers (JAEO). The SRO-442 mandated that JAEO posts be filled 100% on a promotional basis, contrary to the earlier SRO-02 dated January 2, 2004, wherein these posts were filled on a 60:40 basis (60% by direct recruitment and 40% by promotional quota). These JAEO posts used to be the entry-level positions in the APD and the agricultural technocrats are suffering from psychological trauma due to this amendment. Moreover, the entry-level posts in the gazetted cadre have also been affected. Under SRO-179 of 1988, the ratio between direct and promotional quota was 50:50, but later, under SRO-433, the quota was set as 20:80, further diminishing the chances of young professionals with postgraduate and doctoral degrees in agriculture. It has been more than 17 years, APD hasn’t referred a single post of Agriculture Extension Officer (AEO) under the direct recruitment quota, whereas these posts are only being filled on a promotion basis, despite hundreds of posts lying vacant under the direct recruitment quota.

Despite repeated attempts by the association to seek redressal by knocking on the doors of various officers, including the Advisor to the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Commissioner Secretary of JKAPD, Director of Agriculture in Jammu and Director of Agriculture in Kashmir, the grievances still remain unaddressed. The Association said it also submitted hundreds of grievances to the Jammu and Kashmir Government Grievance Cell, but to no avail, as the grievances were disposed of, citing the ongoing reorganization of the department as the reason from the past six years. “The inability of the government to address the genuine concerns of unemployed agricultural graduates, despite our relentless efforts to seek redressal, is deeply disappointing,” said Sheikh Amjid, President of UAGAJK. “The repeated dismissal of our grievances, citing the prolonged reorganization process, is a clear indication of the lack of will to tackle the unemployment crisis particularly for the Agricultural graduates head-on.

He further emphasized that these restrictive policies not only deprive qualified agricultural graduates of employment opportunities but also hinder the infusion of fresh talent and ideas into the Agriculture Production Department. Moreover, the Government of Jammu & Kashmir advertised 156 posts of Agricultural Extension Assistants (AEA) on December 31, 2020, after a gap of 7 years, showing a ray of hope to thousands of unemployed agriculture students and scholars. However, the advertisement was withdrawn on January 2, 2021, for unknown reasons, shattering the hopes of the aspirants. The Association emphasizes that these restrictive policies and inconsistent decisions not only deprive qualified agricultural graduates of employment opportunities but also hinder the infusion of fresh talent and ideas into the Agriculture Production Department. UAGAJK calls for an immediate review and revocation of SRO-442, the resumption of direct recruitment for both gazetted and non-gazetted entry-level posts and the re-advertisement of the withdrawn AEA posts. “Agricultural students deserve to be treated as stakeholders in the Agriculture Production Department,” said Sheikh Amjid.

Their knowledge, skills and fresh perspectives are crucial for the growth and development of the agricultural sector in Jammu and Kashmir. By denying them opportunities to contribute, the government is doing a disservice to the entire agricultural community and the economy of the region.”. UAGAJK urges the Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir to intervene in this matter and requested him to take swift action to address the unemployment crisis faced by agricultural graduates in Jammu and Kashmir—(KNO)

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