M Nageshwar Rao, whose first work day as CBI director started late Tuesday night, has performed his best when faced with disasters, according to his fellow IPS officers in Odisha. A 1986-batch IPS officer of Odisha cadre, Rao was awarded the first Chief Minister’s award for Excellence in Governance and Innovation in Public Service for his outstanding work during Phailin and Hudhud cyclones in 2013-14.
The IPS officer, who was then the D-G of Fire Service, was also awarded Rs 5 lakh.
The Odisha government had won praise from World Bank and United Nations on its disaster management during Cyclone Phailin (2013). The state successfully managed one of the largest disaster evacuations in the country — at 10 lakh people.
Born in Mangapet village of Warangal district, now in Telangana, Rao had his first posting in Odisha’s industrial town of Talcher in the late 1980s. His tenure there earned him praise for cracking down on coal smuggling.
He served as the Superintendent of Police (SP) in four Odisha districts — Mayurbhanj, Nabarangapur, Bargarh and Jagatsinghpur. A chemistry postgraduate from Hyderabad’s Osmania University, who went on to undertake research work at IIT-Madras, Rao was reportedly the first law enforcement officer in Odisha to use DNA fingerprinting in crime investigation while probing a rape case in Jagatsinghpur district in 1996. He was also SP, Railways, at Rourkela and Cuttack, as well as SP of the Crime Branch. In 2012, Rao was awarded with the Odisha Governor’s medal.
In 2014, he was honoured by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu for his work during Cyclone Hudhud, which affected parts of that state along with Odisha. Before stint as D-G, Fire Services, Rao had spent two years in CRPF on central deputation.
In his long career Rao has also courted controversy. Sources in Odisha Police said he was once suspended for professional lapse. “But an officer can be suspended for any reason – it’s generally a political call,” an Odisha cadre IPS officer said. “I know Rao as a meticulous man who was pretty thorough with laws.”
Nageshwar Rao’s empanelment as Additional Director, sources said, is still due. Rao is also a recipient of President’s Police Medal for Meritorious Service, President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service and Special Duty Medal.