Maharashtra government transfers Panvel civic chief, 27 other IAS officers
Shinde, who has been popular among citizens for his people-friendly schemes, was at loggerheads with political leadersmumbai Updated: Apr 17, 2018 00:34 IST
In a major bureaucratic reshuffle, the state government on Monday transferred 28 administrative officers, including Mumbai city and suburban collectors.
But, it is the transfer of Panvel civic chief Sudhakar Shinde that has raised eyebrows in political circles. Shinde’s transfer indicated yet again that the ruling dispensation is bowing down to political pressure when it comes to transferring senior officials.
Barely days after the urban development department led by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis rejected a no-confidence motion against Shinde by the BJP-led corporation’s general body, he was transferred to Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana as the CEO.
Shinde, who was popular for his people-friendly schemes including plastic ban, was at loggerheads with the local political leaders.
In November 2016, Navi Mumbai municipal commissioner Tukaram Mundhe was transferred barely four months after he faced a similar no-confidence motion by the general body.
E Ravindran, former commissioner of Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation, was transferred within 20 months of his appointment, after he started taking action against illegal constructions.
“Though the minimum tenure as per the service rules is two years for IAS officers, it is the clear prerogative of the chief minister to decide on the transfers. So, there is no impropriety in the move,” said an official from the general administration department (GAD.
Some of the other significant transfers include appointment of state elections commissioner Shekhar Channe as State Transport commissioner; Jalna collector SR Jondhale as Mumbai collector and Nagpur collector Sachin Kurve as city suburban collector.
The post of State Transport commissioner was vacant after the former commissioner Praveen Gedam was appointed as private secretary to railway minister Piyush Goyal five months ago. The incumbent Mumbai city collector Sampada Mehta has been transferred as marketing commissioner and city suburban collector, Dipendra Singh Kushwah as joint commissioner in sales tax. Pune collector Saurav Rao has been transferred as Pune Municipal Corporation chief.
“The BJP government is using transfers as a tool to ensure bureaucrats do their bidding. Even though there are clear rules that IAS officers should get a secure tenure of two years, this has been flouted continuously by the government. Today’s transfers of 25 bureaucrats include several who have not even completed a year in their jobs,” said Sachin Sawant, Congress spokesperson.
Sharad Kumar, trustee of NGO AGNI, said, “It is unfortunate that officers with integrity are shunted out under pressure from the ruling party leaders while officials with dubious track records get plum posting. It’s the administrative culture that gets affected. The upright officers get demoralised.”
Shinde refused to comment on the transfer order saying, “It is the government decision and as an officer I have to follow it.”
Mukesh Khullar, additional chief secretary, GAD, said, “The orders were signed late evening on April 13, but issued today morning. Shinde has not been shunted out but given a position in which we wanted an officer with medical background. The motion by PCMC general body was probably suspended as the officer was not given proper opportunity to put up his side.”
Panvel residents shocked by government’s U-turn
Three days after the state government suspended the no-confidence motion passed by Panvel City Municipal Corporation (PCMC) against its commissioner Sudhakar Shinde and praised his work, it ordered his transfer.
Known to be popular among residents, Shinde was brought back as the civic chief last year after people rallied in support of him.
Arun Bhise, president of Citizens’ Unity Forum, said, “Last week, the government suspended the no-confidence motion proposal of PCMC. Now, Shinde is being transferred. There seems to be no room for upright officers in the system it seems. Last time, we had campaigned to get Shinde back. This time, too, we organised campaigns in support of him, but nothing seems to have had any effect on the government.”
There are talks of some citizens planning protests and online petitions to seek Shinde’s reinstatement.
Shinde said, “I will work as per the order of the government, wherever they send me.”
The BJP, which rules the PCMC, was unhappy with all decisions taken by Shinde. The party leaders had been complaining that the civic chief was not working for the city’s development and had approached chief minister Devendra Fadnavis demanding his transfer.
Paresh Thakur, house leader of PCMC, said, “Shinde initiated an anti-encroachment drive but the action was taken only at some places. There was no solution to the garbage issue and the water shortage crisis is looming.”
Paresh Thakur’s brother, MLA Prashant Thakur, and his father, former MP, Ramseth Thakur, have been vocal about pushing for Shinde’s transfer.
Last month, the BJP corporators had announced boycotting the PCMC till the chief minister transfers the municipal commissioner. They changed their mind after being flooded with criticism from other corporators.
Panvel mayor Kavita Chautmal said, “A huge region like Panvel needs a capable officer but Panvel has been developing at a snail’s pace.”
The opposition is shocked at the decision. “A good, hardworking man has become a victim of a political conspiracy. The ruling party has once again proved that those in power can do anything,” said Pritam Mhatre from Peasants and Workers Party.