Why was Agnihotri transferred out of GMDA in just 6 months?
He once worked as the Deputy Commissioner (Kamrup Metro) over a 3-year long tenure. IAS officer, AshutoshAgnihotri joined as the CEO of GMDA just six months ago and was also appointed as the Managing Director of Smart City. Recently, the government decided to transfer him and he has now assumed charge as Commissioner and Secretary, Industry & Commerce and Skill Development, Employment and Entrepreneurship in addition to heading the Transport Department. He has been relieved from GMDA and Smart City. According to sources in the GMDA, Deputy Commissioner of Cachar, S Viswanathan, has been transferred and will be joining as CEO of GMDA soon. He had worked as Commissioner, GMC before his posting in Silchar. The question that now arises is why has Agnihotri been transferred within just six months? Was the government not satisfied with his performance or was it his personal choice to opt for the new assignments? What has he done in his six months’ tenure in GMDA? When he was first posted as DC Kamrup, he had to be transferred out quickly because of a chaos erupting within his office. What was that all about? G Plus tries to find out.
The DC office chaos
Soon after joining as CEO of GMDA, Agnihotri had narrated the story of the DC office chaos to G Plus. Talking to G Plus, he had said, “After I had joined we had initiated strong steps against corruption and also against unauthorised occupation of land. There was a strong nexus of corrupt officials and land mafia who, with the help of some unscrupulous elements, occupy some plots of land - especially of persons who are not in a position to protect their property or someone who is, say, not in Guwahati and has been working outside the city for long and so has not been able to take care of his plot of land. With there being so many technicalities in land matters it is not possible to keep track of the same. So we tried to break that and some vested interests were affected. The whole chaos seemed to be orchestrated. It was not the employees (at DC Court); the same employees co-operated fully during my second tenure and so they were misguided and instigated by some vested interests. But after a brief stint in the finance department as Secretary, I was brought back as DC in July 2011 and I received full co-operation from all employees there. I had a 3-year long tenure in Guwahati as DC (Kamrup Metro).” So has something similar happened in GMDA too? G Plus tried to check the initiatives taken by him in the last six months.
Six months’ wor
According to a highly placed source in the GMDA, as soon as Agnihotri joined as the CEO, the functioning of the department was streamlined and all the pending projects were revived. The long pending projects like multi-level parking lots, renovation of the river front DC bungalow, ropeway project, etc. and work on many more such projects which were long pending started in full swing. The source said that talking about Smart City project, the most vital part of the project was to select the Project Management Consultancy (PMC) which will make the detailed project report (DPR) and according to the report the work flow for the project will be decided. Agnihotri, with proper tendering process following the norms of the Ministry of Urban development, selected Tata Consulting Engineers Ltd as the PMC which, by itself, is the major task for smart city projects. So the source said that Agnihotri was efficient and selected all efficient officers in the department to work with him and accordingly, the department has started working. GMDA is often blamed for not completing its projects. So Agnihotri made sure that no new projects are taken up before the pending projects are completed. Now, that is efficiency and if he was efficient why has he been transferred?
Why the transfer?
Another source in the department said that it is the government’s decision. Even Agnihotri, talking to G Plus, said that it was the government’s decision to transfer him. Another source in the secretariat, talking to G Plus, said that it might just be Agnihotri’s personal decision to opt for the new assignments as being the commissioner and secretary for industry and commerce will give him opportunities to develop not only a city but the entire state. The source said that the transport, industry and commerce minister Chandra Mohan Patwari is also happy with Agnihotri’s performance and wanted him to even take care of the industry sector of the state as unless more and more industries are started, the state cannot develop for the future.
But one question that still lingers is whenever an officer is posted as the head of a department like GMDA, he/she comes with many ideas and starts work for certain projects as per a particular concept or policy. When the officer changes and another individual takes over there is a fair chance of the concept or policy altering altogether. For example, the previous government had a different plan for the old jail plot at Fancy Bazar and the new government plans to make a botanical garden there. In the process of strategy planning and research a lot of public money gets wasted. So the government should think of an idea by which one individual is responsible for one particular project so that at the end if anything goes wrong, that person can be held accountable.
• It was a personal choice of AshutoshAgnihotri
• The government was agreeable to the transfer
• As CEO of GMDA, Agnihotri revived all the pending projects like ropeway, river front renovation, multi-level car parking, etc.
• As MD of Smart City, Agnihotri undertook the vital tendering process to select the PMC
• Agnihotri has assumed charge as Commissioner and Secretary, Industry & Commerce and Skill Development, Employment and Entrepreneurship in addition to continuing to head the Transport Department as its Commissioner and Secretary.
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