As incumbent civic commissioner Subodh Kumar retires in a day, a major reshuffle in the state secretariat is on the cards. Several senior bureaucrats are hopeful of a tenure as the next civic chief, one of the most ambitious posts in the administration after that of the chief secretary.
Kumar was given a three-month extension in January in lieu of the ongoing civic polls. Officials who are in the reckoning for the post include principal secretary to the chief minister AK Jain, additional chief secretary and head of the urban development department TC Benjamin, housing secretary Gautam Chatterjee and MMRDA chief Rahul Asthana.
Benjamin, from the 1979 batch, is the senior most among these officials and has been in charge of the UDD for the last five years. He is seen as a non-controversial and efficient officer. Jain and Chatterjee (1982 batch) both have had stints in BMC earlier as the additional municipal commissioners. Chatterjee has also had a successful stint as the head of the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA).
Asthana, who is from the 1978 batch, was brought in to speed up and improve the working at the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). All these officers are in the good books of chief minister Prithviraj Chavan.
The selection of a civic commissioner will also trigger the other long-awaited changes in the state secretariat. Many senior posts such as that of the managing director of City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) and chief executive officer of Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) are vacant. Many officials have been in the existing post for more than three years including urban development, environment, women and child development, labour secretaries.
There is also a buzz that chief secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad may be granted a three-month extension. However, so far no proposal has gone from the state to the centre requesting the same.
Chavan is wary of appointments to senior posts and is known to deliberate on them. He may also get officials who have been on deputation to Delhi back to the state, if he thinks he doesn't have a good enough choice among the existing officials.