The post of Principal Secretary in state Urban Development department is lying vacant for the past four months, ever since C B Paliwal got himself transferred citing inability “to execute the duties”.
Headed by cabinet minister Azam Khan, the department, which looks after the infrastructure development and various other Centre-state projects, does not generate interest among the prospective senior IAS officers to take charge of the top post “due to lack of ideal atmosphere to perform”, sources in the department said.
Since the Akhilesh Yadav government assumed office in 2012, two senior IAS officers posted as principal secretary have taken transfer from the department and now, according to sources, no IAS officer is interested in taking the post.
Along with Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation, the department is central to implementation of various projects undertaken by Centre and the state. With no principal secretary, the department often has to send files “directly to Chief Secretary for policy decisions”.
“Principal Secretary is usually the head of any department and attends various meetings held by government. But in his absence, the two secretaries (of the department) are attending the meetings,” an official with the Urban Development department said. The two secretaries, 1996-batch IAS officer Anita C Meshram and promoted IAS Shree Prakash Singh , are currently in charge of running the Urban Development and Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation departments.
Of the two, while Meshram’s work is limited as project director of State Ganga River Conservation Agency, Prakash Singh, considered close to Azam, has been assigned most works. “Secretaries hold powers equal to principal secretary. But in a department if there are two secretaries, posting of a principal secretary is must to ensure a single line of action,” said a senior IAS officer.
Paliwal, a 1981-batch IAS officer, served as the principal secretary to department for nearly a year, before he proceeded on a long leave. During the leave period, sources said, Paliwal requested then Chief Secretary Jawed Usmani to transfer him from the department as he was “not able to execute” his duties and “give desired output”.
The government, on March 2, three days before the announcement of the Lok Sabha election schedule, transferred Paliwal to Board of Revenue as member. Before Paliwal, 1982-batch IAS officer Pravir Kumar was brought in from Central deputation on the request of Akhilesh government. Pravir hadn’t even completed his deputation period.
“But he was uncomfortable from day one in the department (Urban Development). When he saw the opportunity, he got himself transferred to the department of medical and health in May, 2013. Paliwal, too, moved out in the same way,” said an official with the Appointment department. Pravir is currently posted in Government of India as Director General of Foreign Trade in Ministry of Commerce and Industry.