Dilip Cherian | IAS officer’s role in Telangana’s pollution board challenged

Telangana HC is to hear a plea filed by a social worker seeking directions to the state government to remove IAS officer Neetu Kumari Prasad

A division bench of the Telangana high court has agreed to hear a plea filed by a social worker seeking directions to the state government to remove IAS officer Neetu Kumari Prasad from the post of member secretary, Telangana Pollution Control Board, for allegedly not possessing the mandatory qualifications in subjects of environment, forests and science, which are statutory requirements according to the Supreme Court.

Earlier, responding to similar PILs questioning the legality of the guidelines fixed for selecting candidates to the posts of member secretary and chairperson of the board, the state high court, too, had ruled that the state government cannot decide to appoint only an officer from the IAS or IFoS to these posts. Further, the court had pointed out that appointing IAS or IFoS officers would affect the functioning of the board since the government would transfer these officers frequently whereas the post of member secretary requires a minimum tenure of two to three years.

Babu watchers say that, given the Supreme Court’s directive and the high court’s earlier ruling, it is unlikely that the current petition challenging Mr Prasad’s appointment will have a different outcome.

Commerce babus set to work on ambitious export target

India’s flagging exports have necessitated the restructuring of the department of commerce. Sources have told DKB that at a recent meeting with senior officials, commerce minister Piyush Goyal highlighted the need to revamp the department to take advantage of opportunities in global trade due to the rapid growth of services and disruptive potential of climate change. The minister has given secretary B.V.R. Subrahmanyam and his team an ambitious target of facilitating exports worth $2 trillion by 2027.

Those aware of these developments say that after the revamp the directorate general of foreign trade and other organisations in the ministry that promote investment and trade will be given a freer hand to achieve the export targets. They also see a stronger role of overseas missions in trade promotion and market intelligence.

Apparently, Mr Goyal has also indicated that a dedicated trade remedies review committee of specialists will be created, which will also include the ministry of finance and line ministries to ensure transparency in investigation outcomes. Clearly, this is yet another push to strengthen Brand India and Mr Subrahmanyam and his colleagues have their work cut out.

Gujarat tightens screws on corrupt cops, officers

Besides the recent avalanche of scams that have been unearthed in Gujarat, the state chief minister Bhupendra Patel faces another problem. Of late there have been several allegations of bribery and corruption against police officers. Most recently, there have been allegations of bribery against the police commissioner of Rajkot, Manoj Agarwal. The complainant is reportedly a BJP MLA, and thus cannot be overlooked.

Sources have informed DKB that the Patel government has received several named and anonymous complaints alleging extortion and misuse of the land grabbing law by cops. Apparently, it is becoming a serious issue, and not just in Rajkot. Now the government is believed to be preparing guidelines to keep police officers away from cases where land deals are involved. Among the new rules will be an instruction that police officials cannot take up an investigation of any complaint in a land matter without the government’s permission. The government is planning to set up a high-powered committee to investigate all major allegations of corruption in land matters against senior IPS and IAS officers. The government will consider the recommendations of the panel and take necessary action.

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