Updated: June 3, 2021 6:10:22 am
Asserting that her government will extend “full support” to former chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay, who has been served a show-cause notice by the Centre for reporting 15 minutes late to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cyclone review meeting on May 28, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said the issue was a “closed chapter”.
“The Alapan Bandyopadhyay chapter is closed now. He has retired from service. Whatever happens to him from here on in, the state government will extend full support,” the chief minister told mediapersons after chairing a review meeting on cyclone relief at the state secretariat which was attended by Alapan Bandyopadhyay, now an adviser to the CM, and HK Dwivedi, the new chief secretary.
Bandyopadhyay, a 1987-batch IAS officer, retired as chief secretary on May 31 – the day he was summoned by the Centre to report in Delhi. Hours later, he was appointed adviser to the chief minister of West Bengal.
Notably, on May 24, the Centre had approved the state government’s request for extension of Bandyopadhyay’s tenure as chief secretary by three months, citing the crucial role played by him in managing the state’s response to cyclone Yaas and the prevailing second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, in a dramatic turn of events on May 28, the Centre issued an order, asking Bandyopadhyay to report to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) in Delhi at 10 am on May 31.
The recall order came after he allegedly did not show up for the cyclone review meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Kalaikunda, along with the CM.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has now issued a show-cause notice to Alapan Bandyopadhyay under the Disaster Management Act and, if converted to a statutory case, could result in imprisonment extending up to two years. A reply has been sought from Bandyopadhyay within three days.
BJP MLA and Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, meanwhile, alleged that the TMC government in Bengal was “supporting Alapan as he is linked to corruption cases involving the ruling party”.
Speaking to mediapersons after meeting Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar at Raj Bhavan, Adhikari said, “Alapan Bandyopadhyay is involved in several irregularities in various measures taken by the state government. I demand that such reports be made public. He (Alapan) is hand-in-glove with various illegal activities of the state government. This is the reason why Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is so desperate to protect him. And Alapan Bandyopadhyay, supporting the state government, insulted Prime Minister Narendra Modi by not attending his [Cyclone Yaas] review meeting.”
Bandyopadhyay was the principal secretary of the transport department that was headed by Adhikari when he was a state minister.
Meanwhile, Bandyopadhyay attended a meeting chaired by the chief minister to take stock of the rehabilitation work in the wake of cyclone Yaas. Chief Secretary HK Dwivedi and Home Secretary Bhagabati Prasad Gopalika were also present in the meeting.
In the meeting, the chief minister sought a report from top officials within three days on what happened to the trees that were uprooted during cyclone Amphan. She also pulled up the officials for not planting five crore trees to boost the Sundarbans mangroves, which took a battering in last year’s cyclone. She said, “This year, we will go in for a plantation drive inside the mangrove forests in three (Sundarbans) districts, namely North and South 24 Parganas and East Midnapore.”
She also sought expert opinion on how the government can come up with a permanent fix for the embankments in the Sundarbans and other coastal areas, which were breached in many places during the cyclone. She said, “We will take the expert opinion on how we can find a permanent solution as otherwise, it is meaningless to repair the embankments every year when the next storm so some other calamity will undo all the work. The government does not have enough money in its coffers for useless spending.”
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