Mumbai: The first head has rolled in the city as the Coronavirus pandemic shows no sign of abating: the Maharashtra government on Friday, in a major reshuffle, shunted BMC Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi and replaced him with the urban development department principal secretary Iqbal Chahal (1989 IAS batch).
Pardeshi, who is 1985 IAS batch, has been appointed the additional chief secretary in the urban development department. The buzz is that the transfer has a lot to do with the power tussle between Pardeshi and Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta.
The timing of the transfer is suspect as it has come on the heels of the union health department joint secretary Luv Agarwal, in his presentation on Thursday, dwelling on the ham-handed handling of the pandemic by the BMC.
Also, despite the Central inter-ministerial team’s suggestions made a fortnight ago, the BMC has not increased to the extent desired the institutional quarantine facilities; nor has it stepped up detection and surveillance. Agarwal had made a grim projection that the cases may surge to 41,000 by May 27, straining further the already fragile BMC health infrastructure.
Thereafter, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who had interacted with Agarwal via video conference, expressed displeasure over the slow pace of implementation of the containment strategy and directed the BMC to address the lacunae by May end.
Earlier, Pardeshi had hogged the headlines after his decision on burial of bodies of COVID patients. Further, his decision to close non-essential and liquor shops and later allow electronic and hardware shops to open on one road each, attracted flak.City had 1 COVID death an hour on an average, in last 7 days 11,967 cases and 462 deaths in Mumbai so far
In another development, the government has appointed former managing director of Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation, Ashwini Bhide, of 1995 IAS batch, as the BMC additional commissioner. She has replaced Jayashree Bhoj of the 2003 IAS batch, who has been made managing director of the Maharashtra Small Scale Industries Development Corporation.
Bhide, who was a close confidant of former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, was sent on compulsory leave after she was relieved as MMRC MD and later engaged in Coronavirus containment plan in Mumbai. Bhide had come under attack from CM Thackeray and his son Aaditya after trees were hacked in the dead of the night at Aarey Colony for the construction of metro depot.
She has now been rehabilitated. BMC additional commissioner Abasaheb Jarhad (1997 batch) has been transferred as secretary of relief and rehabilitation department. Jarhad will be replaced by former Thane Municipal Commissioner Sanjeev Jaiswal who belongs to the 1996 batch.
The present relief and rehabilitation secretary, Kishorraje Nimbalkar (2003 batch), is now secretary in the public works department, replacing additional chief secy Manoj Saunik (1987 batch). Saunik, who was holding charge of public works and finance department, will continue to look after the finance department.
Apart from that, former Thane Municipal Commissioner Sanjeev Jaiswal has been appointed as the new additional commissioner of BMC, replacing present incumbent Abasaheb Jarhad. Jarhad has become the new relief and rehabilitation secretary.