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Forester trio eye pollution board chair

Ranchi, Jan. 30: Once a boss, now a rival for the same plum post, but may the best man win.

Three forest department bureaucrats may be in an awkward position as they have pitted themselves against each other for one coveted chair — that of the Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board’s boss.

The hot seat will be empty from Friday when part-time chairman of the board A.K. Mishra retires. So far, 12 persons have applied.

Here comes the twist.

Mishra, also the principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF), wildlife, is again applying for the post of pollution control board chairman, but now full-time.

And, to give the contest some sizzle, so has his boss A.K. Malhotra. Applicant Malhotra is the serving PCCF (forests) and Mishra’s boss in department hierarchy.

If Malhotra looks over his shoulder, he will find his former boss in the fray for the same job — the retired PCCF A.K. Singh also wants to chair the pollution control board.

Forest secretary Alka Tiwari told The Telegraph that a four-member committee headed by chief secretary R.S. Sharma was formed a week ago to scout for a “competent chairperson” for the pollution control board. Besides Sharma and Tiwari, the two others in the screening panel are B.K. Tripathi and Himani Pande, secretaries of health and industry respectively.

Besides the power trio of Singh, Malhotra and Mishra, others who applied include names from education, environment studies as well as an independent scientist.

A bureaucrat said the job of pollution control board boss was one of the most coveted. “It’s a cream post that everyone wants. PCCF forests boss Malhotra is willing to resign from his present job for it. He is retiring from the PCCF chair in four months. So, he proactively offered to resign to make his application stronger for the pollution control board job,” he said.

On why Mishra applied even before his retirement, he cited the pressure of popularity. Mishra said: “I am retiring tomorrow and would like to settle down with ease. I applied only because of pressure from many people who asked me to apply for the post. So, if I am selected, my focus would be on developing the research and development wing of state pollution control board, which is defunct now.”

According to provisions of Water Act, 1974 and the Air Act, 1981, the chairman for pollution control boards of states and committees of Union Territories can’t be held by chief secretaries, environment secretaries, politicians, MLAs and non-technical persons.

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