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Suryakant Jena

Senior IAS officer and Additional Chief Secretary to Health Department, Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra was appointed Chairman of Odisha Forest Development Corporation in a minor reshuffle effected by the State government on Saturday.

As per a notification issued by the State General Administration and Public Grievances Department, Mohapatra, a 1988 batch IAS officer, replaced Parag Gupta.

Gupta, also a 1988 batch IAS officer, has been appointed Additional Chief Secretary to the Government, Public Enterprises Department.

Similarly, IAS officer of 1991 batch, Vijay Arora who has been serving as the Principal Secretary of the Public Enterprises Department is appointed Officer on Special Duty, GA and PG Department.

As per sources, PK Mohapatra who had been on leave since September 14 citing personal ground joined the office today. Mohapatra proceeded on leave (EL) for a period of 28 days till October 10 on personal grounds. Raj Kumar Sharma, Agriculture Production Commissioner was allowed to remain in charge of Health & FW Department in addition to his own duties during the absence of Mohapatra.

However, the sudden transfer of Mohapatra on the day of his joining office has sparked various speculations in the power corridor.

With the stint of senior IAS officer Suresh Mohapatra as the Chief Secretary of the State set to expire on February 28, 2022, political observers opine that the fresh reshuffle might be a strategy to sideline PK Mohapatra, also considered a frontrunner to the topmost post in the State bureaucracy.

Mohapatra was believed to be unhappy last year in December when he was allowed to remain in charge of the Health department even as IAS officer PK Jena, a batch junior was roped in to head the development affairs in the State as Development Commissioner, the second-ranking post in the State bureaucracy.

(With inputs from Ramakant Biswas)

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