Development suffers as Jharkhand bureaucrats have too much on their plates

Ranchi, June 9 (IANS) Too many departments and not many bureaucrats. That’s the way the Jharkhand government is functioning. The result is worrisome: the top bureaucrats are overburdened as they handle several key profiles and the pace of development is sluggish, says the opposition.

Even though the number of government departments have been reduced from 45 to 31, it seems that shortage of capable bureaucrats is affecting the smooth functioning.

Officials are holding additional charges for the cabinet, planning and finance, environment, power, water resources, forest and environment and IT departments.

And certain departments do not have a full-time director. For example, Sukhdeo Singh, a bureaucrat with Principal Secretary rank, is responsible for key departments like water resources, forest and environment. But he is also the Managing Director of the Greater Ranchi Development Authority (GRDA).

Four bureaucrats with Chief Secretary rank are holding additional charges as well.

Additional Chief Secretary N.N. Pandey, who handles the home department, also holds the additional charge of the cabinet department. Development Commissioner Amit Khare has the additional responsibility of the planning and finance department.

Sanjay Kumar, the Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Raghubar Das, has the additional charge of information and public relations department, while the Chief Minister’s Secretary Sunil Kumar Barnwal has the additional charge of the IT department.

Senior IAS officer U.P. Singh is holding the charge of mining department besides being the chairman of the Jharkhand State Mineral Development Corporation. He is also the Mines Commissioner, Investment Commissioner and the Resident Commissioner.

Rahul Purwar, who is in charge of the Jharkhand Bijli Vitran Nigam Ltd, has been given the additional responsibility of the Secretary of Power Department. Purwar’s additional responsibility became inevitable after the then power department secretary S.K. Rahate went on leave as he didn’t want to change the conditions for the Adani power plant which is being built in the state.

Rural works department secretary M.R. Meena is holding the additional charge of the road construction department. The budget of the rural works and road departments notches up to Rs 6,300 crore.

It’s not that the overburdened bureaucrats are happy. “The additional charge overburdens an official and affects the performance. If a secretary is holding a big department then he should be handed over a low-budget department as an additional responsibility,” a senior government official told IANS on condition of anonymity.

Echoing a similar view, another senior bureaucrat said: “We have to attend the meetings with the Chief Minister, Chief Secretary and such other engagements. The secretariats are situated at three places which are 15 kilometre apart. Sometimes we have to attend meetings in Delhi. Additional charges and the meetings are big hurdles in our performance.”

Moreover, some of the subordinate secretaries are “not competent enough,” he said.

While the entire bureaucratic matrix looks like a cobweb, the Opposition is training its guns on the Chief Minister for slow pace of development.

“Chief Minister Raghubar Das is holding more than half-a-dozen key departments like home, vigilance, energy, industries, road, finance, forests and others. And we all know what has been the result… be it the law-and-order situation in Jharkhand or the power sector. Development has taken the back seat,” said state Congress general secretary Alok Dubey.

(Nityanand Shukla can be contacted at nityanand.s@ians.in <mailto:nityanand.s@ians.in>)

–IANS

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