Sanjay Kumar, an IAS officer of the 1984 batch, on Tuesday took over as the Chief Secretary from Ajoy Mehta.
In an exclusive interview with the Free Press Journal, Kumar, who is an alumni of Netarhat Vidyalya, Jharkhand, talked about his priorities in his new role.
Q: You have taken over when coronavirus cases in the state are on the rise. What are your priorities?
A: My first priority, among others, is to further step up implementation of the Covid-19 containment strategy and restore normalcy. The state administration has been fighting the pandemic for the last four months. My job will be to consolidate the gains achieved by the state under the guidance of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and also under the leadership of my predecessor.
Q: The state economy has been hit hard by the coronavirus lockdown. What is the government's revival strategy?
A: The government has announced extension of lockdown till midnight of July 31 but economic activities which were unlocked will continue. There will be gradual unlocking, so that economic activities become normal in the state.
Q: Monsoon kharif season has begun but agriculture remains a grey area. What is your plan to boost growth in the sector?
A: You are right, the kharif season is on. I will focus on how the farm production can go up. The administration has taken all the necessary steps to ensure availability of seeds, fertilisers and inputs to the farmers.
Agriculture is the greatest employment generator in the state. My effort will be to increase growth through innovative and scientific measures. Besides, the application of new technology can be useful to boost growth.
Q: Do you see the present Covid-19 crisis as an opportunity for the state to attract new investments and stay ahead of others?
A: Maharashtra has been the favoured destination for domestic and foreign investors. The coronavirus pandemic has created ample opportunities to tap investments, mainly from China. The Chinese companies are exploring investment options in Vietnam, Philippines and India, too. Maharashtra is best suited to attracting new investments due to its pro-investor policies and investor-friendly environment. The government may introduce a few more provisions in the industrial policy and take more steps for facilitating ease of doing business to attract investments from China and other countries post Covid-19.
Q: With the beginning of monsoon there is a danger of spread of waterborne diseases amidst the Covid-19 crisis. What will be your plan in this regard?
A: There is every possibility of spread of waterborne diseases during the monsoon. Already. the civic and local bodies, which are involved in the fight against Covid-9, have made preparations to curb the spread of such infections. I will coordinate with these bodies to make more efforts in this regard.