OB Exclusive: P K Jena Likely To Succeed Suresh Mahapatra As Odisha Chief Secy

Bhubaneswar: Senior IAS officer Pradeep Kumar Jena is likely to become Odisha’s next Chief Secretary, succeeding incumbent Suresh Chandra Mahapatra whose tenure is slated to end on August 31, official sources said on Thursday.

A 1989 batch IAS officer of Odisha cadre, Jena has since January 2021 been serving as Development Commissioner, which is considered the No. 2 position in the state bureaucracy. He also holds additional charge of Special Relief Commissioner and Managing Director, Odisha State Disaster Management Authority.

Mahapatra, a 1986 batch IAS officer, was scheduled to superannuate from government service in February end. However, the state government, after getting permission from the Centre, extended his service by six months.

Official sources said though a section in the ruling BJD want Mahapatra to get a further extension of six months, the Centre is unlikely to accede to such a request. Recently, the Centre extended the service of Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba by one more year. “The same model might not to be accepted to the Union Government when it comes to Odisha,” a senior bureaucrat noted.

Sources said several officers of 1987 and 1988 batches including Secretary, Union ministry of corporate affairs, Rajesh Verma and even officers of 1990 batch like Secretary, Union ministry of agriculture and farmers’ welfare, Manoj Ahuja and Secretary, Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals, Arti Ahuja, were being considered for the coveted job in state bureaucracy but Jena is expected to be the chosen one. “Jena has the experience to handle the responsibility. He also enjoys the trust of the ruling coterie,” said a source. “Moreover, some of the other eligible officers are on central deputation and are reportedly unwilling to return to the state even as the top babu,” the source disclosed.

Although at least seven Odisha cadre officers – G V Venugopala Sarma, Tuhin Kanta Pandey, Nikunja Kishore Sundaray, Raj Kumar Sharma, Rajesh Verma, C J Venugopal and Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra – are between Mahapatra and Jena, the powers that be aren’t keen on anyone barring Verma, who was Principal Secretary to CM Naveen Patnaik before proceeding on central deputation in 2019. Verma reportedly doesn’t want to return to the state owing to certain reasons.

This has actually left the BJD bosses with little choice but go ahead with Jena, who has in the past shouldered key responsibilities such as Secretary, Water Resources; Secretary, Forest and Environment; and, Chief Administrator, Shree Jagannath Temple Administrator.

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