As often reported in this column earlier, J&K continues to face a deficit of IAS officers, which is hampering governance in the state.
The last two months have witnessed a turf war between the IAS and IPS lobbies in Maharashtra over the posts of transport commissioner and excise commissioner. The IPS lobby has given a representation to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis that, like in a few other states, these posts should be manned by an officer from the IPS cadre. However, the IAS lobby is refusing to let go of them.
Sources say that the proposal was moved by Director General of Police (DGP) Satish Mathur around two months ago. Mr Mathur argued that both the transport and excise services are uniformed services and, like the police, law-enforcement falls under their purview. Hence, these departments can be better supervised by officers with experience of law enforcement. The IAS lobby however is strongly defending its turf. It claims that since the posts of transport and excise commissioner are allocated to the IAS, any changes would require permission from the department of personnel and training (DoPT).
The CMO is treading carefully. It has, however, accepted the suggestion to create a post for an IPS officer in the protocol department, and also to have one senior IPS officer in the state government’s disaster management centre.
As often reported in this column earlier, J&K continues to face a deficit of IAS officers, which is hampering governance in the state. As things stand, J&K has 77 IAS officers against the sanctioned strength of 137, and 12 of these officers are holding additional charges, that too of vital departments. Moreover, 14 officers are on Central deputation.
Now with the retirement of five IAS officers, there is a chance that the governance in the state would receive a further setback. Meanwhile, chief secretary B.B. Vyas himself is on a three-month extension and his replacement is yet to be found. According to sources, the reason for the inadequate number of officers is that only IAS officers up to the 2005 batch are eligible for the posts of administrative secretaries, and the government doesn't have officers who fulfil this eligibility. Apparently, between 1996 to 2006, only a few IAS officers were allotted the J&K cadre. Now a consensus is being sought to appoint IAS officers of 2007, 2008 and 2009 batch as secretaries of the government departments.
The Centre, in its wisdom, has chosen not to name new secretaries for the ministry of parliament affairs, ministry of statistics and programme implementation and ministry for panchayati raj. Babu circles in the capital were expecting new appointments to these posts this month, but that hasn’t happened yet. Instead, three senior babus have been given additional charge of these posts.
Sources say that Mr Prabhas Kumar Jha, a 1982 batch UP cadre IAS officer and present secretary of official languages, has been given additional charge of secretary, ministry of parliamentary affairs. Similarly, Mr K.V. Eapen, of the Assam cadre and secretary in the department of administrative reforms and public grievances, will also be secretary in the ministry of statistics and programme implementation, while Mr Amarjeet Sinha, a 1983-batch Bihar cadre IAS and the current secretary in the department of rural development, has been given additional charge of the post of secretary in the ministry of Panchayati Raj.
It is difficult to say if this is some sort of a temporary arrangement until the government makes up its mind. But the decision has surprised many, including those who were hoping to occupy the slots.