CHANDIGARH: Local Bodies and Tourism Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu has sought to depute an IPS officer as the Administrative Secretary in the department. In case his demand receives a nod from Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, for the first time a police officer will take over as the administrative head of the department. Sidhu recently met the Chief Minister to request the same. The Cabinet Minister’s request comes in the wake of a number of officers expressing their unwillingness to continue in the department over alleged differences with him.
“I have no problem with anyone. If anyone has a problem with me, that person should be asked questions. I have only been asking the officers to promptly clear the files. If they do not do so, I will question them. The Chief Minister directly deals with matters of transfers. What transpired between me and him, I cannot reveal,” said Sidhu.
According to sources, Sidhu is also lobbying for IPS officers to be deputed as Secretary, Director, Municipal Commissioners in his department. However, these are all cadre posts of IAS officers. If this happens, it is surely going to irk the already upset IAS lobby in the State.
In the past six months, half a dozen IAS and Punjab Civil Services (PCS) officers have sought transfer from the department citing the same reason. The most recent to have been shifted out of the department was senior IAS officer Satish Chandra who was the additional chief secretary. He had differences with Sidhu over the imposition of entertainment tax on DTH and cable connections in the state. Sidhu was reportedly upset with him for not bringing up the agenda in a cabinet meeting.
Other IAS officers who either sought a transfer or were transferred following disagreement with Sidhu include Director (Local Bodies) K K Yadav, Chief Executive Officer of the Punjab State Water Supply and Sewerage Board Ajoy Sharma, PCS officer Hargunjit Kaur, and the then Managing Director of Punjab Municipal Infrastructure Development Corporation J M Balamurugan.
In July this year, Sidhu had sought to chargesheet three IAS officers, Sonali Giri, G S Khera and Ghanshyam Thori, in connection with the allotment of civil works on a single bid. They had allegedly approved these work orders while being the Municipal Commissioners of Amritsar, Ludhiana and Jalandhar.