As the Centre starts to wield more power in the capital during the Covid pandemic, a side-effect, officials say, has been shuffling of officers from one department to another, “without keeping the state government in the loop”.
Since the first week of June, Delhi has seen three nodal officers for Covid response. Additional Chief Secretary (Home, Services) Satya Gopal was the coordinating officer till June 7, when Vikram Dutt Dev was appointed Principal Secretary (Health) and was also made the nodal officer. On June 20, however, Dev was replaced as the nodal officer by B S Bhalla, who holds the charge of Principal Secretary (Home).
In Delhi, which is not a full state and has a special status while being a Union Territory, the services department comes under the Centre, through the Lieutenant Governor. This means the power to appoint or transfer officers falls with the L-G. Over the past few years, the Delhi government has sparred with the Centre over the issue several times.
Senior officials said the frequent changes had affected the working of different departments.
“In the last three months, key officers involved in managing the crisis have been frequently changed without taking the senior elected members into confidence. The removal of officers without any evident reason is affecting the functioning and morale. It is also disturbing the chain of command as every new officer has to first get a hang of all the ongoing efforts,” said a senior officer, who did not wish to be named.
Officials also claimed that not only are the elected representatives not consulted at the time of transferring or appointing a new officer, they are also not informed of meetings being held by senior bureaucrats.
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