LAHORE: After the massive reshuffle in civil bureaucracy, the caretaker Punjab government intends to change administrative machinery in the province to the level of junior field revenue and police officials like patwaris and station house officers (SHOs), senior officials told Dawn on Thursday.

Confirming the move, Chief Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani told Dawn that changes at the lower administration level would be made next week.

“The commissioners, deputy commissioners and senior police officials will select their own teams,” he said.

There are around 146 assistant commissioners (ACs) in Punjab and they are considered the actual link between people in teshils and the deputy commissioners (at district headquarters) who are the representatives of the provincial government.

Exercise will burden provincial kitty heavily

The ACs operate through tehsildars, naib tehsildars and patwaris. Similarly, the district police officers (DPOs) operate through SHOs who represent police in the areas of their jurisdiction. Insiders say that these field officers are the ones who could influence voters more than the DCs and the DPOs.

They say that the MNAs and MPAs have always been interested in getting appointed ACs and SHOs of their own choice in their constituencies to freely exercise their influence during their tenure, especially during elections.

Therefore, if administrative reshuffle is necessary it should go down to the last level of administration.

The chief secretary said that in the first instance all ACs would be changed next week. The transfers would be to the level of junior revenue officers in the field to ensure fair and free elections, he added.

Police sources said the newly-appointed Lahore capital city police officer (CCPO), all regional police officers (RPOs) and the DPOs would select their field teams accordingly.

Previously, this type of massive administrative reshuffle was witnessed during the caretaker government of late Moeen Qureshi.

In India, only lower-level administrative officials, including tehsildars, patwaris, SHOs, school teachers etc are changed ahead of elections because most of them are locals and personally know voters whom they could easily influence.

Meanwhile, the transfer of so many officials from one district to another and even out of Punjab is going to dearly cost the province monetarily. And the cost will be doubled if the next elected government decides to readjust the administrative machinery as per its choice.

Under the Punjab government financial rules, an officer who is transferred to another district or province is paid one full basic pay, rent of luggage up to 4,500kg and fare at the rate of Rs10 per kilometre if the official uses his or her own vehicle, or the tickets of public transport. Those not having families, are given half basic pay, rent of luggage up to 2,250kg and the same transport allowance.

Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2018