CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu government has accepted the application for voluntary retirement from service (VRS) of senior IAS officer U Sagayam (57) with effect from January 2. Sagayam had applied for VRS on Gandhi Jayanthi last year.
“Mr Sagayam has got VRS on January 2,” a senior official of the state government told The New Indian Express.
However, sources said Sagayam, as Vice Chairman of the Science City, continued to attend office till Wednesday.
When asked about this, Sagayam told The New Indian Express, “In my application for VRS, I requested the government to relieve me from service either on December 30 or on January 30, the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. However, the government did not respond to my VRS application till December 29. So, I wrote to the Chief Secretary on that day to relieve me from the service on any date which is mutually acceptable prior to January 30. Till date, there has been no response to that request. However, on January 2, all of a sudden, the government issued orders to me relieving me from service.”
Sagayam also said he had once again sought an appointment with the Chief Secretary to fix a date for relieving from service. But the appointment was not given.
Expressing anguish at the rumours being spread that he was refusing to quit his present post even after orders were issued, Sagayam told The New Indian Express, “I have made up my mind to take voluntary retirement from the service. So, why should I retract now? I have the right to cancel my VRS application even a day before I get relieved from the service. But I won’t do this because I have decided to go.”
Asked about speculation that he would be entering politics, Sagayam laughed and said, “I am yet to decide. I don’t plan for my personal future in a big way. I always go the way Nature leads me.
But I will be free to engage myself in social service.”
A couple of months ago, sources close to Sagayam said the officer was disappointed by the way he was treated by the government by keeping him in an unimportant post for over seven years at a time when the state was in need of the best officers like him in key positions since it had faced many disasters.
The sources also pointed out that Sagayam should have been promoted to a Secretary-grade officer four or five years ago.
Upagaram Pillai Sagayam was born on March 22, 1963 at Perunchunai village in Pudukottai district. He received his master’s degree in social work from Loyola College and a bachelor’s degree in law from the Chennai Law College. He reportedly faced more than 25 transfers in 30 years of service. His office door used to bear a sign reading "Lanjam Thavirthu Nenjam Nimirnthu (Reject bribe and hold your head high).
The important positions held by him include Secretary, State Election Commission, Collector of Namakkal, and Madurai districts Legal Commissioner when he probed the irregularities in granite mining in Madurai.
He cleared the Civil Service Examination of the UPSC and joined Central Secretariat Service in Delhi in 1989. Later, he also cleared the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission and joined as a Deputy Collector in Tamil Nadu in 1990. Sagayam was the first IAS officer in the country to declare his personal assets voluntarily in the public domain in 2009 while he was Collector of Namakkal district.
When he was DRO cum Additional District Magistrate in 1999, he sealed the production unit of Pepsi in Kancheepuram district following a lab report which confirmed that the samples were not fit for human consumption. In 2011, the Election Commission posted Sagayam as Collector of Madurai district where complaints about bribing voters were high. He thwarted many attempts to bribe voters and registered cases against many key politicians.
In 2012, Sagayam's report about illegal quarrying of granite in Madurai and its surroundings shocked everyone as the estimated loss due to the irregularities stood at Rs.16,000 crore. In 2016, a large number of youth in Madurai under the banner Ezhuchi Thamizhagam appealed to him to enter politics to cleanse the system.