1987-batch IAS officer, the front-runner for Punjab chief secretary’s post
The power corridors in Punjab are agog with speculation about the next chief secretary as the incumbent Karan Avtar Singh is retiring in August.
Grapevine has it that 1987-batch IAS officer Vini Mahajan is the front-runner for the coveted post, superseding the senior-most bureaucrat in the state government — 1984-batch officer, K.B.S. Sidhu.
Sidhu, who held the key charge of financial commissioner (revenue), was last week relieved of the post.
Mahajan’s husband, Dinakar Gupta, is the incumbent DGP of Punjab. He has already been empanelled for a DG-level post at the Centre.
Mahajan, additional chief secretary, governance reforms, had served in the Prime Minister’s Office during Manmohan Singh regime. She had been examined by the CBI in connection with alleged irregularities in allocation of coal blocks in 2013.
Other than Mahajan, the officers known to be in the running for the Punjab chief secretary post are Sidhu and Viswajeet Khanna, who took over the charge of financial commissioner (revenue) from Sidhu.
Opacity around PM-CARES continues
There seems to be no end to the opacity around PM-CARES (Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations) Fund.
The Prime Minister’s Office, which administers the fund, is tight-lipped about not only the total amount the fund has received so far, but also the parameters for its disbursal after the announcement last month that Rs 3,100 crore will be earmarked for migrant workers returning home and for procuring ventilators.
Some forward movement happened in the last few weeks when different states were called by PMO officials and told to open a separate bank account where money from PM-CARES could be transferred.
Although most states opened their accounts, they are yet to receive any funds. They are also not clear about how much funds will be allocated to individual states and how they are supposed to spend it.
Shipping ministry v/s Jal Shakti ministry
It was last December when Prime Minister Narendra Modi had first used the term ‘Arth Ganga’— a sustainable development model that focuses on economic activities related to the river — while chairing the first meeting of the National Ganga Council in Kanpur.
Not much has happened since then with the Union Jal Shakti Ministry, which implements the Namami Gange programme, failing to come up with concrete ideas.
What should ideally have been the domain of Gajendra Singh Shekhawat’s ministry has now been hijacked by the shipping ministry.
Shipping minister Mansukh Mandaviya along with his ministry officials made a presentation before the PMO last month on how it plans to develop economic activities around Ganga.
Grapevine has it that soon after Mandaviya’s presentation, Shekhawat got into action and roped in the NITI Aayog, which called shipping ministry officials to make a presentation on the project before it. Those in the know say that Shekhawat, who was also present in the meeting along with top NITI Aayog officials, grilled the shipping ministry team over different aspects of the ‘Arth Ganga’ plan they had conceived.
The shipping ministry officials held fort, but officials were amused by Shekhawat’s sudden zeal.