IT SOUNDS odd, but in the midst of the worsening drought situation across the country, Panchayati Raj secretary and 1982 batch Madhya Pradesh cadre IAS officer Jitendra Shankar Mathur has been asked to double up as rural development secretary too, till August 24, 2016, as the government has failed to identify the right bureaucrat as the rural development secretary. This saga began on February 29, 2016 when the then rural development secretary Jugal Kishore Mahapatra had…retired. The government in an order on February 29 gave additional charge of the post of rural development secretary to 1981 batch Kerala cadre IAS and the then Panchayati Raj secretary SM Vijayanand. But on April 22, in another order, it was stated that “the Competent Authority has approved assignment of additional charge of the post of Secretary, Department of Rural Development, Ministry of Rural Development to Shri Jitendra Shankar Mathur, lAS (MP:1982), who will take over as Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj w.e.f. the forenoon of 25.04.2016 vice Shri S M Vijayanand, IAS((KL: 1981), for a period of one month or till appointment of a regular incumbent to that post or till further orders, whichever is the earliest”.
But rather than spotting a full-fledged secretary, the government in an order dated May 17, approved continuation of the additional charge of the post of rural development secretary to Panchayati Raj secretary Jitendra Shankar Mathur for a period of three more months beyond May 24.
Giving additional charge of a ministry to a fellow secretary is a common practice in the government, but the inability of finding out a regular rural development secretary, particularly in the midst of a massive drought and continuing cases of farmers’ suicides, is considered a serious matter.
Meanwhile, the government has given additional charge of the post of heavy industry secretary to DPE secretary and 1981 batch Assam cadre IAS Ameising Luikham during the leave of heavy industry secretary Girish Shankar between May 25 and 31.
Also, secretary of the department of economic affairs Shaktikanta Das has been given additional charge of post of revenue secretary between May21 and June 5, 2016 when revenue secretary Hashmukh Adhia is on leave.