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  Opinion   Oped  19 Oct 2019  Niti CEO puts the pedal to the metal

Niti CEO puts the pedal to the metal

Love them, hate them ignore them at national peril, is the babu guarantee and Dilip’s belief. Share significant babu escapades
Published : Oct 20, 2019, 12:10 am IST
Updated : Oct 20, 2019, 12:10 am IST

From time to time, the Uttar Pradesh government is bitten by the austerity bug.

NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant
 NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant

After criticism from Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant over the slow progress on overhauling of railway stations, a stung railway ministry has swung into action, which is probably what the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) wants anyway.

In a letter to railway board chairman V.K. Yadav, Mr Kant panned the prolonged delay in a station redevelopment project that has lingered “for several years”. He suggested that an empowered group of secretaries and railway officials be created to help execute the project in “a time-bound manner”. The station project entails leasing out railway properties.

According to sources, Mr Yadav has ordered formation of the committee that includes, besides Mr Kant and Mr Yadav, secretaries of the departments of economic affairs, housing and urban affairs and the railway board financial commissioner. The censure has finally made the lumbering railway bureaucracy rather anxious since the Niti Aayog’s red flag is pretty much a stand-in for a message from the PMO that the rail babus need to get their collective act together, as they are being closely watched.

Jitters before the merger
The Centre’s decision to bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories has created uncertainty and confusion among the state’s IAS, IPS and IFS officers about their future. As of now, officers serving in the J&K cadre will continue undisturbed. But officers of the All India Services who will serve in the state will be recruited into the AGMUT cadre since J&K will become a Union territory after October 31.

Those in the know say that babus are unsure whether they will get posted to other parts of the country or only new recruits will be eligible for postings outside the state. Not surprisingly, senior babus are less keen on the possibility of being posted outside the state they have served in for many years.

The other issue perturbing babus in J&K is an old one — shortage of officers. Apparently, the state has only 70 IAS officers against the sanctioned strength of 137. The babus are hoping that the government will send more AGMUT cadre officers to J&K to make up for the deficit. Hopefully, the situation will become clearer once the AGMUT cadre merger happens this month-end.

Also this will probably put an end to the ritualistic capital shift every year, once and for all.

Bugging them again
From time to time, the Uttar Pradesh government is bitten by the austerity bug. Last year, the state government had issued orders asking officials to curtail expenses on foreign visits, fly economy class and avoid meetings in five-star hotels. It also mentioned that no new posts will be sanctioned except those in the medical and police departments. The order was applicable to all government departments, offices, PSUs and state universities.

Now, in a new attempt to cut the flab, the state government has scrapped 93 posts of the finance and accounts departments citing “austerity measures”.

Most of the posts are from the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA), the forest department and the poverty alleviation department. Apparently, after DRDA officials were accommodated in the rural development department, the DRDA was deemed as “dead”. Similarly, after an internal survey, many posts in the forest and poverty alleviation departments were found to be redundant and a burden on the state exchequer. So the government decided to do away with them.

Tags: niti aayog, prime minister’s office