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Top two posts in the Infrastructure and Industrial Development Department have been vacant for over a month,despite much talk by the Samajwadi Party government about attracting investment in the state.
While there is no Infrastructure and Industrial Development Commissioner for the past five months,the post of Principal Secretary of Industrial Development Department has been vacant for a month.
Because of the state governments failure to find officers for these posts,ad hoc arrangements are being made to deal with some significant development projects to be undertaken under public-private partnership.
The charge of Infrastructure and Industrial Development Commissioner (IIDC) has been given to one of the seniormost officers because IIDC coordinates with over 10 government departments. No one was appointed to the post after Anil Kumar Gupta was transferred in January 2013.
Under the rules,bid-evaluation committee for different PPP projects in the state is headed by the IIDC. The committee has the power to decide issues related to bidding,except those that require clearance from the cabinet. In the absence of IIDC,the task was given to Principal Secretary of Infrastructure and Industrial Development.
However,even the post of Principal secretary has been vacant for the past one month after Sanjay Agarwal was transferred to the Energy Department.
In this scenario,the first case of a development project that came before the government for consideration and discussion was that of the 270-km Lucknow-Agra Expressway,an ambitious project of the CM. Special arrangements were made for the governments pet project and the Principal Secretary,Energy was given the power to decide matters related to the project two weeks ago.
However,another issue came before the government this week,when the Tourism Department called for discussions related to bidding for the Kushinagar airport project. The department had held a pre-bid meeting with bidders in Delhi earlier this month and their queries are yet to be answered. For this,a meeting is required with either the IIDC or Principal Secretary of Industry Department,but both the posts are vacant.
The Government will thus have to decide some alternative for this project as well.
Other matters pending in the absence of the IIDC and Principal Secretary are issues related to modernisation and upgradation of working of Udyog Bandhu - the nodal agency for attracting investment in the state. In its election manifesto,the SP government had promised to strengthen Udyog Bandhu and simplify its single-window clearance system for investors.
However,the issues related to upgradation plans are pending because the IIDC is chairman of the body and the Principal Secretary is executive director. Officers below this rank are not authorised to take decisions on their own.
In the meantime,the cabinet has also approved opening of medical colleges under public private partnership model. Discussions related to the bidding process for these would also have to be taken up by the Industrial Development Department.
Sources said the government is contemplating removing a clause that gives power to the IIDC to head the bid evaluation committee for PPP projects in the state.