December 18, 2013 5:43:01 am
As Mizoram moves towards more infrastructure projects in part due to Indias Look-East Policy,Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla and his younger brother Lal Thanzara,who has been made a Minister of State this term,have taken the technical department portfolios manned by powerful government engineers. Another crucial portfolio,Public Health Engineer,is in the hands of the Chief Ministers daughter-in-laws brother,cabinet minister Zodintluanga.
While the Chief Minister has retained both the Public Works Department and the Power and Electricity (P&E) Department,his brother Lal Thanzara,who was earlier parliamentary secretary for the Finance and Planning portfolios,will assist him in handling the two departments.
These three technical departments are considered the state governments main revenue sources in the absence of a strong industrial sector,laggard state PSUs and an under-developed agricultural sector.
Consequently,the engineers who man them have grown powerful over time,the government even acceding this year to their demand for a secretary-level post in the face of a vocal and sustained opposition from central-service officers such as IAS,IPS and IFS officers posted in the state.
With ongoing and planned infrastructure projects such as an ambitious multi-modal transport project linking the land-locked state to a sea-port via Myanmar,a pioneering railway line that will cut through the hill-state from north to south,several hydro-power projects and ongoing natural gas reserves exploration (and increasing urbanization that is likely to see an enlarged PHE role),these technical departments are expected to play a major role in Mizorams near future.
The portfolio allotment by the five-time CongressChief Minister has also seen several changes from the previous government.
The school as well as higher education portfolios both usual flash-points not just because of their reach but strong lobbying from powerful students and teachers unions have changed hands in spite of the former education minister Lalsawta still in the cabinet.
Lalsawta has also been given Finance,replacing H Liansailova,who lost the elections. Health portfolio also has a new head MoS Lal Thanzara.
He has been allotted independent charge of the health portfolio.
His predecessor,cabinet minister Lalrinliana Sailo,has been dropped altogether.