Home hunt for Soren's men keeps officials on toes

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By AMIT GUPTA in Ranchi
  • Published 8.09.08

Ranchi, Sept. 8: Officials and engineers of the state building construction department are going through a harrowing time hunting for that humble bungalow for chief minister Shibu Soren’s team.

Considering the paucity of bungalows and the fact that a number of them are illegally occupied, the task seems an especially difficult one for the authorities.

The home hunt is on for principal secretary Bijay Kumar Tripathy, chief political adviser to the chief minister Ajit Kumar, Soren’s private secretary M.L. Pal and Neeraj Kumar, the appointed officer on special duty.

While the chief minister’s team is set to get the keys to their new homes, many other civil officials may have to give up their old ones.

“We are waiting for the West Singhbhum deputy commissioner, Sunil Kumar, and the private secretary of former chief minister Madhu Koda, Arun Kumar Srivastava, to vacate their respective residences. There are a few residences that are already vacant and some officials would be moved in there. The government bungalow near the chief minister’s residence in Kanke road is vacant, while the residence meant for the chief secretary in Kanke has been lying empty for the past couple of years,” said Ghanshyam Aggrawal, the executive engineer of the building construction department (Ranchi division).

Sunil Kumar’s residence was allotted to him in capacity of director of industry, his former posting, but he still doubles up as the director of Ranchi Industrial Area Development Authority (Riada) and thereby qualifies to hold a house. However, sources said that the Riada boss has agreed to vacate his house soon.

The chief secretary’s residence was last inhabited by former chief secretary P.P. Sharma, but the present incumbent A.K. Basu did not go to the house.

Renovation plans are also on for the chief minister’s residence where the bathrooms would get a new set of tile and a fresh coat of paint would be given to the entire home.

About Rs 50,000 is being spent on the makeover of the office of Neeraj Kumar, the officer on special duty. Kumar is occupying the office of the secretary of the chief minister’s office, Alka Tiwary, an IAS officer who has been continuing in the post since the tenure of former chief minister Arjun Munda. Officially, Tiwary still holds the chair.

However, after too many change of guards she changed her office from the chief minister’s secretariat to a near by room.

Significantly, home allotment to non-government employees is illegal, said an official of the building construction department. In case of Soren’s new team-mates Ajit Kumar, Neeraj Kumar and M.L. Pal — are all non-government appointees.

“Norms suggest that persons appointed on fixed monthly honorarium basis should not get a government residence,” revealed the official. It’s a different matter altogether that the same norms were regularly flouted during Soren’s predecessor Madhu Koda’s time.