FDA chief Pallavi Darade shunted out of state govt

Mumbai: Taking serious note of the allegations of administrative corruption by the erstwhile Devendra Fadnavis government, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government has transferred the current head of the Food and Drug Administration, Pallavi Darade and appointed A B Unhale in her place.

Food and Drugs Minister Rajendra Shingane took serious note of the illegal decisions taken by Darade as FDA commissioner and recommended her immediate repatriation to her home cadre, the Indian Revenue Service (IRS). Accepting the recommendation, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray ordered Darade's transfer on Wednesday. Unhale, who is joint secretary in the relief and rehabilitation department, will be the new FDA commisioner.

Darade is an IRS officer from the 1997 batch and was appointed FDA commissioner in June 2017. Her husband and IAS officer Praveen Darade, the blue-eyed boy of the then CM Fadnavis, was also his secretary. It was during this period that he managed to wangle key postings for his wife. She was the additional commissioner of income tax in Maharashtra and later appointed tribal development commissioner, a post reserved for IAS officers. After this, she was posted as an additional municipal commissioner in the BMC, which too is a position reserved for IAS officers. Then, in violation of all norms of the Food Safety and Standards Act of India (FSSAI) Act, she was appointed FDA commissioner in 2017.

Dhananjay Munde, now a minister in the MVA government, was then the leader of the opposition in the legislative council and had raised this issue several times. He complained to Fadnavis about the matter, terming these postings as "administrative corruption".

As per the FSSAI rules, no person below the rank of 'commissioner and secretary' to the state government shall be eligible to be appointed as the commissioner of food safety. Yet, Darade, a non-IAS officer, was appointed to this position.

"Even though the FSSAI Act does not have any provision of financial penalties for unsafe food goods, Darade took an illegal policy decision to do so. Article 59 of FSSAI, clearly mentions imprisonment for serving or transporting unsafe goods. But Darade, instead of filing a complaint with police to punish gutka smugglers, decided to levy penalties on them and thus, saved them from imprisonment," wrote Munde in his complaint to the Fadnavis government.

Darade had also illegally annulled the suspension of the licence of former minister and MLA Pankaja Munde's Vaidyanath Sugar Factory in Beed district. She suspended the joint food safety commissioner A E Kerure, who had ordered the suspension of Munde's factory licence, Dhananjay Munde had complained.

Other transfers

Dr Madhvi Khode-Chaware, director of textiles, Nagpur, has been posted as the municipal commissioner, Jalgaon Municipal Corporation, while Laxminarayan Mishra, commissioner, animal husbandry, Pune, has been posted as the district collector of Ratnagiri. Pavneet Kaur has been posted as commissioner, Tribal Research and Training Institute, Pune.

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