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Unified MCD’s new head no stranger to Delhi

The Centre had on Wednesday issued a notification saying the three civic bodies of Delhi will be formally merged on May 22.

Ashwini Kumar (L) appointed as first special officer and Gyanesh Bharti (R) as the first commissioner of the unified MCD. (File)

Ashwani Kumar, a 1992-batch IAS officer of the AGMUT cadre, was Friday appointed as the first special officer of the unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) that will come into effect from Sunday. Kumar, who hails from Meerut, has earlier served as Chief Secretary of the Union Territory of Puducherry.

Born in 1968, Kumar holds a Masters’ degree in International Development and a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering.

He also holds the distinction of being one of the longest serving Chief Secretaries of Puducherry. He assumed charge in November 2017 and was at the helm of affairs during the politically volatile years when former Lt-Governor Kiran Bedi and former Chief Minister V Narayanasamy were engaged in frequent confrontations. He also oversaw the subsequent days of President’s rule there.

For Kumar, this would not be his first stint in Delhi — he was Principal Secretary to the Public Works Department in the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) before being transferred as Chief Secretary to Puducherry.

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His tenure in the national capital was marked by controversies. In 2017, when the confrontation between Aam Aadmi Party leaders and bureaucrats, who reported to the Lieutenant Governor was at its peak, a Delhi Assembly panel on desilting of drains recommended that Kumar be divested of his responsibilities as PWD and Vigilance Secretary, and a probe be conducted to fix responsibility for “payments” made to contractors.

The Petitions Committee, headed by AAP MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj, had also asked the then Chief Secretary, M M Kutty, to submit an action taken report to the House within a month. The recommendations were made in the wake of waterlogging and resultant traffic snarls across the city due to pre-monsoon showers. Kumar had gone to court against the Assembly committee’s recommendation and got a stay.

Prior to this, he held the post of Secretary, Environment Department. He was the Chief Executive Officer of the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) between August 2011 and July 2012, and also served as the deputy commissioner of South and East Delhi in the beginning of his career between 1998 and 2003. He has also been CEO of Delhi Jal Board.

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In a related development, South MCD Commissioner Gyanesh Bharti has been appointed as the commissioner of the unified MCD. Bharti is a 1998-batch AGMUT IAS officer. He was posted as joint secretary and cabinet secretary with the Government of India before being repatriated to his parent cadre in 2019. A graduate in Mathematics and Masters’ in Business Administration from Delhi University, he has earlier served as Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and as Director in the Ministry of Power.

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Bharti is known for staying away from the media glare and avoiding political confrontation — qualities that, sources say, added to his CV for the post. “There were several occasions in his tenure where even a single statement could have led to controversy, like the meat ban announcement by the mayor or demolition in Shaheen Bagh, but he kept himself away from media interactions,” said a senior South MCD official.

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“In situations where the political and executive wings have been at loggerheads, his tenure has largely remained non-controversial as he doesn’t appear at the forefront and operates behind the scenes,” said another South MCD official.

First published on: 20-05-2022 at 18:08 IST
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