On the evening of 14 October, four veterinary doctors in Wanaparthy district received an identical whatsapp message. It was not an SOS about an animal in need of help but an order from the office of the district collector Sweta Mohanty, directing the four doctors to report for duty at the RTC depot at Wanaparthy the next morning.
With 48000 employees of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) on strike since 5 October, the district administration in Telangana districts is struggling to get operations going. But the vets were reluctant to take on the supervisory role at RTC, arguing they have no idea about the nature of the work. They represented to the State Veterinary Association and along with a representative met Sweta Mohanty on Tuesday evening.
But the exemption was not granted.
“We requested the District collector to withdraw the order but she was reluctant to do so. She said there is a shortage of staff. But we told her that even the Telangana Government employees have extended support to the strike and we are part of those employees,” Dr UR Ramesh, President of the Telangana State Veterinary Assistant Surgeons Service Association told Filter Kaapi. The association has 1890 Veterinary assistant surgeons as its members.
The doctors also argue that handling RTC operations needs a different kind of skillsets and managerial competence whereas as veterinary surgeons, they have very different capabilities. But the administration feels that in light of the situation, the vets should stop handling animals and handle buses instead.
The vets also argue that to look after the livestock in the district, resources are stretched. Of the 19 veterinary doctor posts in Wanaparthy, only six have been filled and three others taken on contract, leaving ten vacancies.
The four doctors – Dr Madhavi, Dr Nikhil Reddy, Dr Shyam and Dr Vijay Kumar – now plan to appeal to the Directorate of Animal Husbandry and request for exemption.
UPDATE : The Wanaparthy Collector has exempted the veterinary assistant surgeons from RTC duties at the bus depot in the town.