THE DISTRICT Magistrate of Gautam Buddh Nagar, B N Singh, was shunted out and a probe ordered against him hours after he attended a meeting chaired by Yogi Adityanath in Greater Noida, where the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister expressed displeasure over the handling of coronavirus cases linked to a fire-safety firm.
Following the meeting, Singh issued a statement saying he did not wish to continue in the post.
“A departmental enquiry, which will be headed by an IAS officer, has been set up against B N Singh. The primary charge against the official is that the fire safety firm in Noida was not sealed in time, which contributed to the rise of coronavirus cases in the district. He stands attached to Board of Revenue in the interim,” said a government spokesperson.
At one point during the meeting Monday, sources said, the Chief Minister is learnt to have told Singh, Chief Medical Officer Dr Anurag Bhargava and other officials: “Bakwaas band karo (Stop this nonsense)”. Video clips of the incident were also shared on social media.
Later, Singh issued a statement: “For personal reasons, I would like to be sent on leave for three months and I do not want to continue in the post of DM. To ensure that there is no administrative discontinuity in the efforts against coronavirus, kindly appoint another officer.”
Late Monday, 2007-batch IAS officer Suhas L Yathiraj was appointed as the new DM. Yathiraj has served as the DM of Prayagraj and was awarded the Yash Bharti, UP’s highest civilian honour, four years ago.
With five people testing positive on Monday, Noida has 38 cases, more than any other district in UP. On Monday afternoon, the Chief Minister reached the Gautam Buddh Nagar University to review the situation and chair the meeting in which Singh and Bhargava were present.
According to sources, Adityanath was upset with the handling of cases linked to the fire-safety firm in Sector 135. Until Monday, at least 20 cases have been directly or indirectly linked to the firm, which was visited by a British national for an audit earlier this month — a fact that the firm allegedly hid.
Sources said Adityanath expressed dissatisfaction with the measures taken after the first case came to light. “For people who came in contact with infected patients, important information should have been passed on, which did not happen,” the Chief Minister is learnt to have said.
According to a senior official, a medical team from Lucknow was also present in the meeting and raised technical questions on the district’s handling of the case. The team alleged that if the firm had been sealed in time and contact-tracing carried out, the extent of the outbreak could have been reduced, sources said.
At several points during the meeting, the DM and CMO were interrupted by the Chief Minister while they were spelling out the district’s policy, sources said.
During the meeting, the DM is learnt to have said that he has been working “18 hours” during the crisis. According to a senior official, the Western UP region, including Noida and Meerut, has been on the Chief Minister’s radar because of the number of cases recorded there.
Adityanath also distributed ration in Greater Noida, visited Noida, and reached UP Bhavan in New Delhi to inspect a control room set up by the state government to resolve queries.
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