In a major administrative reshuffle, the state government has transferred Darjeeling District Magistrate (DM) Ponnambalam S to the land and land reforms department, where he will be the joint secretary.
Paschim Banga Agri Marketing Corporation Managing Director and Public Health Engineering department Project Director Shashank Sethi has succeeded him in the northern district.
The notification announcing the reshuffle was issued hours after Ponnabalam met Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Monday, who is on a month-long visit to the Hills at present. Dhankhar has been critical of the Mamata Banerjee government, and has clashed repeatedly with the state administration over the law-and-order situation in the state.
Though the government claimed that it was a routine transfer, Darjeeling MP Raju Bista of the BJP criticised the move.
“Testifying to the utter mismanagement and arbitrariness of the way the TMC government has run administration in the state, Darjeeling became the only district in India that has earned the unenviable distinction of seeing five District Magistrates move in and out in a matter of less than one-and-a-half years.”
He went on to add, “The game of musical chairs produced by TMC and directed by Hon’ble WB CM Mamata Banerrjee ji started with Joyoshi Dasgupta being moved out on 29 Jun 2019, to be replaced by Sanjay Bansal. Bansal was in the chair for merely two days before being replaced by Deepa Priya P. After a short tenure of just 11 months, she too was moved out in April 2020. She was replaced by Ponnambalam S, who was posted out after a mere six months in the chair, and he has now been replaced by Shashank Sethi.”
Bista said it was a well-accepted idea that bureaucrats must have an assured tenure of three years, except in the rarest of cases, to render to the general public the services the constitution guarantees them.
“An officer must be assured of reasonable tenures to be able to do justice to the post he occupies. Every officer needs time to learn the sphere and scope of his post, before being able to discharge their duties in a befitting manner and serve the people as they are sworn to. Short tenures, ranging from a few days to a few months will damage the quality of administration beyond repair,” the MP added.
Apart from Ponnambalam S, 11 IAS officers and 21 IPS officers were transferred. The government claimed the administrative rejig was affected for those holding a post for nearly for more than three years, in accordance with Election Commission (EC) norms.
Former Health Secretary Vivek Kumar was moved to the Department of Environment and given additional charge of the West Bengal Valuation Board. Purba Bardhaman DM Vijay Bharti was put in charge of the Birbhum district administration, while his predecessor Moumita Godara Basu was placed in charge of Jalpaiguri district. Abhishek Kumar Tiwary, who was the Jalpaiguri magistrate, was named the joint secretary of the state higher education department. Vibhu Goel was moved from Nadia to Purba Medinipur. He succeeded Partha Ghosh, who moved the other way and took over the Nadia administration.
— With PTI inputs
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines