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Praveen Pardeshi is BMC chief as Mehta named chief secy

Praveen Pardeshi was appointed the new BMC commissioner. Pardeshi is currently the additional chief secretary to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.

gurgaon Updated: May 11, 2019 01:09 IST
Faisal Malik & Eeshanpriya MS
Faisal Malik & Eeshanpriya MS
Mumbai Brihanmumbai Municipal Commissioner,Ajoy Mehta
Praveen Pardeshi was appointed the new BMC commissioner.

Mumbai Brihanmumbai Municipal Commissioner (BMC) Ajoy Mehta was appointed Maharashtra’s new chief secretary on Friday. Mehta’s appointment to the top administrative post comes after the incumbent, UPS Madan, opted for voluntary retirement.

Mehta helmed India’s richest municipal corporation for four years. The 1984-batch IAS officer is likely to take charge as chief secretary on Monday and will serve for four months until his retirement in September. Praveen Pardeshi was appointed the new BMC commissioner. Pardeshi is currently the additional chief secretary to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. A 1985-batch officer, Pardeshi has been a key member of Fadnavis’s core team since he became CM in November 2014.

Pardeshi was appointed principal secretary to the CM days after Fadnavis took oath.

In February 2017, he was promoted as additional chief secretary. Pardeshi, too, will take charge on Monday.

Madan applied for voluntary retirement on May 8, barely 45 days after taking charge as the new chief secretary of the state. The government has approved his application. “Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis also approved Mehta’s appointment for the post of chief secretary and Pardeshi as Mumbai civic chief, which was also cleared by the Election Commission of India on Friday. As the model code of conduct is still in place, the EC’s approval was necessary to make making any administrative changes, said a senior official from the state general administration department (GAD), not wishing to be named.

On Friday, Madan was appointed as special adviser to the chief minister, a post equivalent to that of the chief secretary. He is also likely to be appointed as the chairman of the state government company, State Industrial and Investment Corporation of Maharashtra (Sicom) Limited, and an official order for this is yet to be issued by the state industries department, said the GAD official.

Madan’s was the shortest tenure as chief secretary in the state so far, as he took the charge only March 27, 2019. Before him, AK Mago had the shortest term, of just four months in office. According to senior Mantralaya officials, Madan wants to become the state election commissioner. The tenure of the current state election commissioner, JS Saharia, ende on September 4. Madan is likely to get the position after that.

As Mumbai municipal commissioner, Mehta’s most notable achievement during the tenure was the overseeing the smooth passage of the Development Plan 2034 for the city, after a previous draft was scrapped by the state government over massive public outcry. Mehta is also credited with digging out two multi-crore scams in the BMC’s roads and storm water drains (SWD) department.

In 2015, Fadnavis appointed Mehta to replace Sitaram Kunte, just before the latter completed three years in office, in the midst of outrage over mistakes in the Draft Development Plan. As soon as he assumed office, Mehta was handed the mammoth task of redoing the Development Plan 2034 in less than half the time it took to draft the previous text. He also had to polish the BMC’s image in the eyes of Mumbaiites angry with the previous draft.

Mehta also almost completed the procedure to start the passage and implementation of the DP. Mehta is known for coming down heavily, even on top BMC officers, and taking legal action against his own employees if they are found guilty of not doing due diligence in their jobs, or those involved in major scams that rocked his tenure. However, the final punitive action against some officers named guilty in some of these are pending.

Mehta’s tenure also saw some major tragic incidents, including the massive fire at a restaurant in Kamala Mills in December 2017, which killed 14 people; the fire in a Kurla restaurant in October 2015 that killed eight students; and the partial collapse of the Himalaya Bridge outside the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) in March 2019, in which seven people died. All of these incidents evoked strong criticism of the civic body’s functioning.

Pardeshi’s most celebrated stint was his term as Latur district collector, when he was credited for efficiently handling relief operations after the 1993 earthquake. He also played a crucial role in shaping several initiatives of the Fadnavis government. Civic officials hope Pardeshi’s influence in the state government will help the civic body pass various issues pending with the government.

First Published: May 11, 2019 01:09 IST