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Absentee babus irk PC

Ranchi, Dec. 15: Union finance minister P. Chidambaram wasn’t too pleased to note that several officials from various states, including Jharkhand, were absent at a crucial pre-launch conference in Delhi to discuss direct cash transfer of subsidies, an ambitious people-friendly scheme about to be unveiled by the Centre.

The meet on the implementation of Direct Cash Subsidy Transfer Scheme (DCSTS) was held in Delhi on Thursday. But, state health secretary K. Vidyasagar was the only one among his peers present even though his counterparts from the departments of social welfare, labour, human resource department and welfare were supposed to have gone, too.

According to sources, deputy commissioners of Ranchi and Hazaribagh Vinay Kumar Choubey and Manish Ranjan respectively, reached the venue late as they took a morning flight which got delayed due to fog.

But Ramgarh deputy commissioner Amitabh Kaushal and his Seraikela-Kharsawan counterpart K.N. Jha reported for the meet on time, though the venue was changed at the last minute from Vigyan Bhawan to NDMC conference hall.

Sources within the state bureaucracy claimed Chidambaram, who was present during the inaugural session between 12.30pm and 1.30pm, was concerned about “quite a few vacant benches in the district collectors’ row” as well as “secretaries’ row.

“Chidambaram wanted to know under what circumstances seats were vacant,” said a source. However, the Union minister did not name any state in particular.

The direct cash transfer scheme is to be launched in Ranchi, Ramgarh, Hazaribagh and Seraikela-Kharsawan districts of Jharkhand where the state has been able to issue a good number of Aadhaar cards. But, enrolments of all beneficiaries are far from over.

Advisor to Planning Commission Nidhi Khare, a Jharkhand cadre IAS officer who is on central deputation, told The Telegraph over phone from Delhi, “Secretaries were also supposed to be present during the all-important meet so as to get multi-sectoral views before the implementation of the scheme.”

The meeting was called at the behest of Planning Commission which is organising regular video-conferencing sessions with states to ensure there was no hitch in the implementation of the scheme.

Sources in Delhi said, several secretaries from other states were also absent, prompting the Union government to consider sending written complaints to the “absentee” states.