Ahead of the second phase of re-openings in the region, four civic commissioners from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, at the epicentre of the pandemic, were transferred Tuesday following a fresh surge in novel coronavirus cases. Civic commissioners of Thane, Navi Mumbai, Mira Bhayander and Ulhasnagar municipalities were transferred by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
According to sources, the four areas are among those which have witnessed a substantial spike in the number of Covid-19 cases since the rollout of the first phase of re-openings of public and economic activity on June 5.
Consider this. Since June 5, the four municipal corporations have collectively reported 8,489 positive cases, which is a 94 per cent hike in the cases reported before in these municipalities. Thane district, which has six municipal corporations in all including these four, has, so far, reported 26,506 cases and 751 deaths, making it the second worst-hit region after Mumbai.
Before the rollout of ‘Unlock 1’ in the MMR, sources said Thackeray and Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta had, in anticipation of a rise in cases, directed the civic commissioners of all corporations in the region to upgrade their track and trace infrastructure and also augment the availability of critical care beds.
“It was felt this was not done with enough alacrity,” said a senior official, explaining the probable reasons behind the abrupt transfers.
According to the Thackeray-led General Administration Department’s orders, Dr Vipin Sharma, an IAS officer of 2005 batch, who has just returned from a foreign deputation, has replaced Vijay Singhal (1997-batch) as Thane’s new civic commissioner.
Singhal, who had previously served as Mumbai’s Additional Municipal Commissioner, had been appointed to the post only in March this year.
Abhijit Bangar, an IAS officer of the 2008 batch, who was serving as Additional Divisional Commissioner in Nagpur, has replaced Annasaheb Misal (2003-batch) as Navi Mumbai’s new municipal commissioner.
Similarly, Dr Vijay Rathod (2014-batch), earlier posted as Chief Executive Officer of the Zilla Parishad in Gadchiroli, has succeeded Chandrakant Dange (2010-batch) as Mira Bhayander civic corporation’s new chief.
Rathod’s batchmate, Dr Mantada Raja Dayanidhi, meanwhile, has replaced Sameer Unhale, an Additional Collector-rank official, as the new civic commissioner of Ulhasnagar.All the new successors are direct IAS recruits. For now, the outgoing commissioners have not been assigned new postings.
Earlier in May, Thackeray had abruptly transferred then Mumbai civic commissioner Praveen Pardeshi.
Meanwhile, the state government has yet again asked all corporations in the MMR’s Thane district to intensify contact tracing and isolation of positive patients, asking them to achieve a target of average 10 high-risk contacts per index case.
Thane Collector Dr Rajesh Narvekar, when contacted, said that a massive deployment of staff from government and aided institutions to beef up contact tracing in the district was on the cards.
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