February 11, 2021 1:41:30 am
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s most trusted bureaucrat, Ajoy Mehta, is all set to leave the CMO. After serving eight months as Thackeray’s Principal Advisor, Mehta (61), a former Chief Secretary, will now be Maharashtra’s new Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) chief.
Sources confirmed that Thackeray has approved Mehta’s appointment to the RERA chief’s post. Chief Secretary Sanjay Kumar also evinced interest in the post. Two other IAS officers Kshatrapati Shivaji and Bipin Mallick had applied for the position, which had fallen vacant on January 20 after the tenure of Maharashtra’s first RERA chief, Gautam Chatterjee, ended.
Dr Vijay Satbir Singh, a sitting RERA member, is currently discharging the RERA chairperson’s role in additional capacity. The government had earlier come under some criticism for not advertising for filling up the post to allegedly limit the competition to select IAS officers. RERA rules make any “expert” having 20 years of professional experience in the fields of urban development, housing, real estate and infrastructure development eligible to apply for the post.
Since the Thackeray government took over reins in November 2019, Mehta, first as the state’s Chief Secretary and later as Thackeray’s Principal Advisor post retirement, had served as a key link between Thackeray and the bureaucracy and his political allies. A section within the bureaucracy was upset with the clout he continued to wield post retirement.
With RERA rules disallowing the chairperson to hold any other government office, sources said that Mehta will have to give up his current assignment as Thackeray’s Principal Advisor.
Sources also said that Mehta himself had indicated his willingness to leave the CMO by applying for both the RERA and the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission’s chairperson’s post, which has also fallen vacant.
Mehta’s appointment as the RERA chief also paves the way for Kumar to be appointed to the MERC chairperson’s role, said sources. It also signals at the upcoming major rejig at the top level in the bureaucracy. Maharashtra’s Home Secretary Sitaram Kunte is now the firm favourite to become the state’s new chief secretary after Kumar’s retirement. Mehta remained unavailable for comment.
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