Rejig on cards
Even as Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s plan to reshuffle and expand his Council of Ministers has been postponed, a high-level bureaucratic reshuffle is in the offing. The key position of additional chief secretary (finance) would fall vacant, if D K Jain is appointed as the state’s new CS. Fadnavis is also believed to be keen to fill up the crucial positions of expenditure secretary, skill development secretary, and transport commissioner, which have fallen vacant. He will also have to factor in the upcoming retirement of two senior bureaucrats, Ujjwal Uke and Vikas Deshmukh.
Change of guard
Additional Chief Secretary (Finance) D K Jain, a 1983-batch IAS officer, is set to succeed Sumit Mullick as the state’s Chief Secretary. Word is that the CMO has finally convinced Mullick, who is due for retirement next April, to step aside by accepting the vacant post of the chief information commissioner. While Mullick had earlier conveyed that he wasn’t too keen on the post-retirement position, the CMO seems to have had its way. It is learnt that he has now applied for the post. If sources are to be believed, the change of guard may even take place by the end of this month.
Not everyone is pleased about the prospect of D K Jain’s elevation as the next Chief Secretary (CS), superseding two seniors from his batch — Medha Gadgil, and Sudhir Shrivastav. Gadgil, who is the seniormost bureaucrat after Mullick, was vying to become the state’s first woman CS. While women bureaucrats are dismayed that another opportunity of installing a woman in the high chair might have been missed, some of them feel that Gadgil did not help her chances, going low key after the Fadnavis government won office.
Tour de France
Mumbai’s bid for the World Heritage tag for the Victorian and Art Deco district around the Oval Maidan is set to get a major push. A mission, comprising Principal Secretary (Urban Development) Dr Nitin Kareer, heritage conservationist Abha Narain Lambah, and a representative from The Archaeological Survey of India flew to Paris Sunday. They are scheduled to pitch for the status before the decision makers at the UNESCO. Incidentally, while the inclusion of residential buildings along the Marine Drive in the bid has been opposed by a section of local residents, this has still been included, it is learnt.
Out of the blue
The Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority has signed an MoU with the Richard Branson-backed Virgin Group for checking the feasibility of a pod-based terrestrial transportation system or ‘hyperloop’ between Mumbai and Pune. We hear that senior bureaucrats in the Mantralaya, including those with the urban development department, had no inkling about the deal. While the chief minister was present when the MoUs were exchanged, even officials in the CMO said they came to know of it at the last minute. While the transportation system proposes to carry passengers or freight at airline speeds, it is still untested.
Questions are once again being raised over the Fadnavis government’s move to lift the ban on supply and sale of toddy in Mumbai and Thane, after raids conducted earlier this month showed that deadly chemicals were being mixed in the drink. The government had banned toddy supplies in non-growing areas last October after a survey found rampant adulteration. But Excise Minister Chandrasekhar Bavankule overturned the ban for Mumbai and Thane this August. The U-turn has come under scanner even more, since the government had successfully defended the ban in as many as 11 court cases. Eyebrows are also being raised over the role of a senior BJP legislator from suburban Mumbai.
Devendra Fadnavis’s cousin Prasenjit has thrown his hat in the ring in the elections for the senate at the Savitribai Phule Pune University, which were held Sunday. According to sources, the ruling party has left no stone unturned to ensure a victory for Prasenjit. Compiled by Sandeep Ashar