Lucknow: The UP government today removed R M Srivastava from the post of Principal Secretary (Home), close on the heels of suspending IAS officer Sarvesh Chandra Mishra in connection with a controversial letter on “reconstruction” of Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

“Principal Secretary (Home) Srivastava has been removed and Anil Kumar Gupta has been posted in his place,” official sources said here. Gupta has assumed charge.

Though no reason was cited for the transfer of Srivastava, a 1982 batch IAS officer, it is believed to be a fallout of the letter controversy.

The controversy had erupted over a communique by the state Home Secretary convening a meeting to discuss the “reconstruction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya on the lines of Somnath Temple,” with a red-faced SP government calling it an “error” and promising action against the guilty.

The government had on Sunday suspended Mishra from the post of Secretary (Home) following the letter to convene a meeting of the officers mentioning reconstruction of Ram temple at Ayodhya as its subject.

“Instead of mentioning the actual subject, Secretary (Home) Sarvesh Chandra Mishra mentioned wrong and signed, extremely misleading and disputed subject in the letter regarding a meeting to be chaired by the Principal Secretary (Home) on October 14,” an official statement had said.

“It has been decided to suspend Mishra, an IAS officer of 1997 cadre, with immediate effect and initiate departmental inquiry against him,” it said.

The statement said that during suspension period, Mishra would remain attached with the Revenue Board.

While Misra was transferred and put on the waiting list, section officer of the home department Prem Kumar Pandey was also placed under suspension.

The Principal Secretary (Home) had to apologise for the “error” and take responsibility for the folly of “junior level” officials.

In order to immediately supply food items, 50 kgs of rice and pulses are being given per family by the state government, officials say.

“We are targeting BPL and antyoday families first. In the meantime, we are also distributing Rs 500 cash to each affected individual so that they can purchase essential food items straight from the market rather than the administration distributing it which takes time,” Ganjam Collector Krishan Kumar said.

A number of coastal villages bordering the neighbouring Gajpati district are also being sent relief material as the damage has been extensive in the area.

People in Chatrapur village said that they have sent some of their representatives to the Collector’s office to ensure that the relief material reaches them soon.

The administration, taking into account the herculean task of relief material distribution, has also authorised more than 20 NGOs for distributing food items, polythene sheets, bamboo logs and water pots to affected people.

The district administration officials at various places had to face a tough time convincing the people that the relief material will reach them soon.

All coastal villages, which got disconnected due to damaged roads, have by and large been connected, district authorities said.

People in both rural and urban areas of this largest district of Odisha are also facing problems of non-availability of electricity and mobile phone connectivity.

Officials say partial restoration of both these services will take at least two more days.

District administration sources say they are finding it tough to reach a number of fishermen families as they have moved to their houses after the cyclone and there is no one to receive the food items on their behalf at the relief centres.

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