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IAS officers see salve

Kahlon

Calcutta: R.P.S. Kahlon, the IAS officer arrested last year by Calcutta police on a bribery charge while he headed the Calcutta Port Trust, has been made member secretary of the West Bengal Land Use Board.

The decision to grant the berth to the official, who had been on compulsory wait since March when he rejoined service after a yearlong suspension, is being read by the IAS fraternity as a gesture of reassurance to them.

Kahlon is on bail and the bribery case is under way. When he was arrested from a Calcutta hotel in March 2016, several civil servants had felt that action should have been taken in a less dramatic manner and by involving central agencies since the official was on central deputation.

"Somehow an impression had taken shape that the arrest was the fallout of a Port Trust initiative to clear its land of illegal encroachers," said a senior official.

Several IAS officers said on Friday that they had taken note of the timing of the posting. "Kahlon is set to retire in April next year. If an IAS officer retired while on compulsory wait, it would have caused more heartburn among the fraternity. Maybe the state government did not want such a situation," a bureaucrat said.

Sources said the state government was taking steps to give Kahlon the rank of additional chief secretary before he retired.

"The Bengal government has requested the DoPT (department of personnel and training at the Centre) to allow the creation of a supernumerary post of additional chief secretary for Kahlon. This will also send a signal to the IAS officers serving in Bengal that the state government is not vindictive," an officer said.

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