Mumbai: The Maharashtra Government has appointed Sitaram Kunte, an IAS officer of 1985 batch as the new Chief Secretary. Kunte, who is currently the additional chief secretary (home) will succeed the outgoing CS Sanjay Kumar whose term ends on Sunday.
Kunte’s appointment coincided with the Maratha Bhasha Divas (Maratha Language Day) celebrations.
In Kunte, the state has got a Marathi Manoos as the Chief Secretary. Kunte while speaking to the Free Press Journal confirmed that he has been intimated telephonically on his new assignment. The FPJ broke the story on Saturday.
Kunte and his batchmate Praveen Pardeshi were two contenders for the CS post. However, Pardeshi’s move to opt for a foreign assignment after he was removed as the BMC Commissioner and appointed as the additional chief secretary (urban development) has gone against him. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday night signed the file and Kunte was informed on phone on Saturday about his appointment.
Kunte’s appointment comes three days before the commencement of an eightday budget session and also when there has been a spurt in COIVD 19 cases. On Saturday, there were 8,623 cases and 51 deaths were reported while of the 36 districts a record 28 districts have witnessed spike in cases.
Kunte will have to coordinate with the divisional commissioners and district administration to step up containment measures in a serious bid to control the virus infection. Being an administrative head, Kunte will also have to coordinate with the Centre and multi-disciplinary teams currently in Maharashtra to supervise the COVID 19 containment measures.
Besides, Kunte will have to take a lead and sensitize all departments to make all efforts for additional resource mobilization. This is when the state government faces a huge financial crunch especially following the COVID 19 induced lockdown and economic downturn. The government will have to struggle to revive the economy and make available funds for ongoing and new development projects.
The finance department has indicated that the revenue deficit will be more than Rs 1 lakh crore while the fiscal deficit will surge to 7% because of a revenue shortfall and borrowings of Rs 73,000 crore during April-December 2020.
Moreover, the restoration of 12% quota in education and 13% in government jobs for the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes has been another challenge the Maha Vikas Aghadi government faces. Kunte will have to coordinate with the political bosses and legal team in pursuing cases in the apex court.
Meanwhile, the state government has appointed Manukumar Srivastav, who is IAS officer of 1986 batch, has been appointed as the additional chief secretary (home). Further, the state government has given a three months extension to Mumbai Metropolitan Commissioner RA Rajeev.