Days after horticulture minister Vidya Stokes expressed displeasure over extension of the term of horticulture director Gurudev Singh, search has begun for a new director.
Gurudev was recently given an extension of one year, but according to sources there was a proposal of appointing him adviser to the department and appoint a new director. Sources told HT that the horticulture minister has also agreed to the replace Gurudev and appoint him adviser, where he would not have much work.
The sources said that initially someone from Dr Yashwant Singh Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry Nauni was to be chosen, but finally Stokes and her close aides arrived at the conclusion that some senior Himachal Pradesh Administrative Service (HAS) officer would be selected.
"Search is on, soon a new director will be appointed, who is most likely to be some senior HAS officer," sources said, adding that the department needed someone who has interest in horticulture.
Earlier Stokes had sought the performance record of the horticulture department from Gurudev Singh and was reportedly unhappy with the workings of the present director.
Stokes had earlier pulled up the department over apple orchards in the state after she received several reports about their "degradation". "The horticulture department has orchards in several locations but their output isn't satisfactory, due to which people are losing trust," said an official requesting anonymity.
According to sources, Stokes was not happy with Singh since she took over the reins of the department. A senior government functionary said she had twice apprised Virbhadra about her annoyance with the director. "One of the reasons behind Stokes's annoyance was Singh's frequent tours, most of them being to his native Hamirpur district," they added.
Stokes maintained that she was kept out of the loop while giving an extension to Singh. "I wasn't aware that Singh had been given an extension as I didn't see any government order. I have no personal issue but am concerned about the activities of my department and the progress it has made in the past two years," she said.