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Officer drain hurts Writers’
- ‘Scope there and politics here’ take toll on secretariat

Calcutta, Dec. 19: At least 20 IAS officers have left Bengal in four years because of bett-er prospects elsewhere, lack of opportunities to get noticed and alleged political interference.

The “officer drain” is one of the possible reasons behind gaffes like the one that forced the government to withdraw a bill from the Assembly yesterday, sources said.

“Bureaucrats of Bengal have to put up with regular political interference or requests from the (CPM employees’ union) Co-ordination Committee,” an IAS officer said.

“Many of them (the officers) have been relegated to insignificance because of the ruling party’s strong likes and dislikes,” he added.

The union denied the charge that political interference was driving efficient officers away. “They must be going to Delhi for better prospects and a brighter future. Moreover, very few Bengalis are making it to the cadre and those here may not have any attachment to Bengal,” said its general secretary Jyotiprasad Bose.

An IAS officer with the industries department wondered how the concerned babus could gloss over the “routine requirement’’ of seeking the governor’s nod to a money-related bill.

Bose, however, said “yes- terday’s blunder” was more a result of the IAS officers’ tendency to “depend more on joint secretaries and less on experienced section officers and clerks”.

An IAS officer agreed that a Delhi posting offered greater opportunities to get noticed. “The lack of such opportunities reduces job satisfaction in Bengal.”

Sources said senior bureaucrats like A.K. Jain, Ramsebak Bandopadhyay, V. Subramanian, Jawahar Sircar, A.S. Lamba, K.S. Ramasubban, C.M. Bachawat and Arun Mishra are now handling important portfolios in Delhi.

V.K. Raghupati has moved on to Tuticorn Port Trust as its chairman, while G. Balachandran has joined the Union ministry of environment and forests. Anup Chanda is heading Calcutta Port Trust and Basudeb Banerjee the Tea Board. Asim Barman is the Damodar Valley Corporation boss.

Sanjay Mitra, who had spent several years with the state government, is with the Prime Minister’s Office.

A principal secretary said: “Entertaining requests of ruling party MLAs and ministers is one of the many jobs an IAS officer in Bengal has to do.

“Besides, some bureaucrats are asked to handle the responsibility of two departments simultaneously. That puts a strain on the officers. In such cases, Delhi is a better option.”

According to a home (personnel) department official, at least three IAS officers are trying to move out for “personal reasons’’.

Public undertakings secretary Ardhendu Sen is on a seven-month study leave in Delhi and does not want to return, while Bijoy Chatterjee, the additional chief secretary of tourism, is keen on a central berth. Sources said relief and horticulture secretary Atanu Purkayastha is also eyeing the capital.

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