There is intense speculation whether the term of principal secretary to the PM Nripendra Misra will be renewed.
They say the ship of state is the only ship that leaks at the top! Concerned about its sleuths leaking sensitive information about ongoing investigations to the media, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has issued an order that virtually gags its officials at its headquarters.
ED director Sanjay Kumar Mishra has reportedly directed his officers to stay away from “unwarranted interaction” with the media or face “punitive action”. According to sources, Mr Mishra has issued a circular stating: “It has been observed that certain information relating to ongoing investigations have been published in the media. This information relating to impending action may jeopardise the interests of ongoing investigations.” Mr Mishra also stated that an earlier circular issued last year on the issue was “not followed in the right spirit”.
ED headquarters handles some of most high-profile cases involving money laundering and hawala transactions, besides overseeing investigations conducted by zonal centres of the ED across the country. These naturally evoke keen media interest. But will the ED succeed in implementing the order considering the directive hasn’t worked on previous occasions? And what about instances when it might work to the ED’s advantage to let the media in on its investigations?
Forest officers Escaping the heat
For forest officers in Uttarakhand, peak summer is usually fraught with hectic activity due to the seasonal forest fires that break out in the dry hillsides, burning forests and destroying life and property. This year, sources say, around 900 hectares of forests are in flames in practically all districts in the state.
So, eyebrows were raised when three senior Indian Forest Service (IFS) officers of the state — chief forest conservator Vivek Pande, forest conservator Parag Madhukar Dhakate and divisional forest officer Nitish Mani Tripathi — left for the United Kingdom and Poland for two weeks on a “study tour” even as hundreds of hectares of forest were burning. Apparently, the officials will participate in a joint programme with the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and the Zoological Society of London to study tiger footprints in the Nandhaur Wildlife Sanctuary.
In their absence, it is reported that the chief conservator of forests, Jai Raj, hamstrung for senior staff, has advised forest dwellers and farmers routinely to “take care” of the forests. Surely, not the best planned foreign trip or sage advice, especially as the fires continue to rage and senior officers cool down, far away.
New faces at the top
In one of its first decisions, the Modi 2.0 government will have to make key appointments to senior security, defence and bureaucratic positions, with the current incumbents set to vacate their posts over the next few weeks. Since cabinet secretary P.K. Sinha is set to retire on June 12 after a two-year extension, the government will also have to name his successor. The buzz is that home secretary Rajiv Gauba, a 1982-batch UP-cadre officer, is the frontrunner for the position of top babu. The government will also appoint a new defence secretary as Sanjay Mitra is set to retire on at the end of the month. Sources say that three Bihar-cadre officers are in the running for his post — environment secretary C.K. Mishra, industry secretary Ramesh Abhishek and rural development secretary Amarjeet Sinha.
There is intense speculation whether the term of principal secretary to the PM Nripendra Misra will be renewed. If Mr Misra is kept on, but for a shorter term, it is expected that additional principal secretary P.K. Mishra may be elevated as principal secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). It is also rumoured that Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant may relocate to the PMO.