Major bureaucratic reshuffle on anvil

Sahil Rasgotra. Updated: 2/19/2018 1:18:39 AM Front Page

11 key depts functioning on ad-hoc basis likely to be benefited


JAMMU: Even as it is certain that Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir are not going to be held anytime soon, the government is contemplating a major reshuffle in the administration at the top level. Earlier there were plans to move certain officers in view of the Panchayat polls including some deputy commissioners posted in their respective home districts. That is not the case anymore because the Panchayat elections have been put off with no future roadmap in sight.
However, the government is planning to go ahead with a major revamp in higher-rung civil administration, especially in the light of the fact that around a dozen government departments have been functioning with the top positions lying vacant, and are likely to be benefited from this reshuffle.
As things stand today, at-least eleven headless government departments have been functioning on ad-hoc basis- the ghost of ‘additional charge’ further burdening the officers, while a couple of them are completely headless.
One of the most important departments- Planning Development & Monitoring Department- headed by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has been functioning sans any administrative secretary for long now. While the department is usually headed by one of the topmost bureaucrats, it is Chief Minister’s Principal Secretary Rohit Kansal who is currently holding its additional charge. Kansal is also holding the additional charges of civil aviation, estates, hospitality & protocol departments.
Another very important post- of Chairman of Bureau of Public Enterprises has also been lying vacant since very long. Currently, its additional charge is held by Principal Secretary Finance, Navin Kumar Choudhary; whereas the post of Commissioner of Food Safety has been lying vacant ever since its creation. The additional charge of this recently created post is currently held by Principal Secretary Health & Medical Education Department, Pawan Kotwal.
Eight months after the inclusion of twin cities of Jammu and Srinagar in the Smart Cities Project, the posts of CEOs of executing agencies Special Pilot Vehicles (SPVs) created by the government last year are still lying vacant, showing the seriousness- or rather the lack of it- of government in this regard.
Ramesh Kumar, Commissioner, Jammu Municipal Corporation is currently holding the charge of Chief Executive Officer of SPV for Jammu city, whereas Farooq Ahmad Lone, CEO, Economic Reconstruction Agency, J&K is looking after the SPV for Srinagar city.
One of the most sensitive autonomous institutions of the government which is vital to the training of top and middle-level human resources- J&K Institute of Management, Public Administration (IMPA) is also headless since December 2017.
The post of Director General has been lying vacant since last year after the transfer of Pramod Jain to State Water Resources Regulatory Authority and its additional charge is currently with Khurshid Ahmad Shah, Commissioner/Secretary, General Administration Department, already burdened with the additional charges of Floriculture, Parks and Gardens Department.
The key department of Transport is also lying headless since January 23, 2018, upon transfer of Hemant Kumar Sharma as Divisional Commissioner Jammu, the additional charge of the post of administrative secretary is currently held by M Raju, who is Commissioner/Secretary, PHE, Irrigation & Flood Control Department.
The high-profile Tourism department- chaired over the past three by former Chief Minister Late Mufti Mohammad Syed and later by Mehbooba Mufti, upon former’s death and was recently moved to Tassaduq Mufti is not only lying vacant but also embroiled in controversies over the choice of the officer for the ad-hoc appointment.
Sarmad Hafeez, Managing Director of Tourism Development Corporation, is one of the junior most officers and has faced brickbats ever since he was given the additional charge of the administrative secretary of Tourism Department.
Among other departments, the post of Administrative Secretary, Technical Education Department has been lying vacant since long and currently looked after by Hilal Ahmad Parray, Commissioner/Secretary, Youth Services & Sports Department; whereas the additional charge of the post of secretary, Information Technology Department is currently held by Transport Commissioner Saugat Biswas.
While Information department, having no administrative secretary, is looked after by Labour Commissioner, Kifayat Hussain Rizvi, what really takes the cake in the list is the Rural Development Department which is lying completely headless.
With the expected major reshuffle, it is likely that government will appoint some of the officers to these headless departments.
It may be mentioned here that the said reshuffle was on the cards in view of Panchayat elections which were announced to be held from February 15. However, the All-Party Meeting convened by Chief Minister early this month, had failed to reach a consensus.

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