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Mohapatra in central role

- Gokul Pati tipped to be chief secy

Bhubaneswar, July 13: In the first secretary-level appointment by the Narendra Modi government, state chief secretary Jugal Kishore Mohapatra was today named as the secretary in the ministry of fertilisers.

As Mohapatra prepares to take over his new assignment, Gokul Chandra Pati, secretary, defence production, is being tipped to replace him.

Modi cleared Mohapatra’s appointment, along with that of UP-cadre IAS officer Rakesh Garg who will be the telecom secretary, before leaving for Brazil for the BRICS summit.

Mohapatra, a 1979 batch Odisha cadre IAS officer, had taken over as the chief secretary on July 1 last year. The 58-year-old bureaucrat, who is to retire in 2016, was keen to move to the Centre. Though the reasons for his disillusionment with the state government are not known, sources said Mohapatra, once a favourite of chief minister Naveen Patnaik, does not currently have good relations with a powerful section of bureaucrats considered quite close to the chief minister.

During his tenure, Mohapatra had won accolades for successfully managing cyclone Phailin that struck the Odisha coast last October. Last week, the state had appointed Sanjeev Marik as the director general of police and shifted Prakash Mishra, who was holding the post, to the state’s road transport corporation as its chairman-cum-managing director.

Naveen had picked up Mohapatra, known for his simplicity and down-to-earth approach, for the coveted post following the retirement of Bijay Kumar Patnaik. Mohapatra had superseded four officers — Gokul Chandra Pati, Pradipta Ranjan Saha, Hrushikesh Panda and Nilanjan Sanyal — that time. While Pati and Saha belonged to the 1978 IAS batch, Panda and Sanyal were Mohapatra’s 1979 IAS batch-mates. Except Saha, the other three were on Central deputation.

Pati, who is likely to replace Mohapatra, has been preferred over his batch mate, Saha, who is now in Odisha as member of the Board of Revenue (a post equivalent to the chief secretary rank). He is due to retire in October.

Official sources confirmed that the state government had urged the department of personnel to repatriate Pati back to the Odisha cadre. Pati too has given his consent for his return to the home state.

“The Centre’s response is yet to be received,” said a senior officer of the general administration department, which controls the services of IAS officers.

In a surprise move last week, chief minister Naveen Patnaik had changed the director general of police (DGP). The incumbent Prakash Mishra, who was holding the post, was sent to Odisha State Road Transport Corporation as its chairman-cum-managing director. Naveen had brought in Sanjeev Marik in his place.

Mishra, known as an upright officer, too was interested in a deputation to the Centre. He was being considered for a post in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). In May this year, the state government had declined to spare Mishra on the ground that the state was having an acute shortage of IPS officers.

This is notwithstanding the fact that in December 2013, the state government had cleared Mishra’s request for a deputation to the Centre. His subsequent transfer to a post considered insignificant by officials has baffled the IPS lobby.

“It’s a tussle between IAS and IPS,” said an IPS officer.