Pradeep Pattanayak

IAS officer Manoj Ahuja was appointed as the new chief secretary of Odisha replacing Pradeep Kumar Jena. 

"On repatriation from Government of India, Manoj Ahuja is appointed as Chief Secretary, Odisha and Secretary to Government, General Administration & Public Grievance Department consequent upon the retirement of Pradeep Kumar Jena with effect from 30.06.2024," the letter from the Odisha govt read.

After the announcement of his name as the next Chief Secretary, Ahuja in his first reaction to OTV said he is happy to return to Odisha. He said he would return to Odisha within a week.

Recently the Centre had given its nod to allow the 1990-batch IAS officer’s return to Odisha from the central deputation, fuelling speculations that he might be appointed as the Chief Secretary. And, the speculations were proven true today. 

Even though Ahuja has earned many appreciations including being in the good books of Prime Minister Narendra Modi while working in the Agriculture Ministry, his new appointment is said to be full of challenges. 

Since the 24-year-long rule of the BJD government came to an end and for the first time the BJP has formed a government in the state with a clear mandate, he may face some challenges. It is also discussed that he will be able to tackle the situation as he has long experience of managing the show. 

Senior journalist Akshay Sahu said, “As per our knowledge, he (Manoj Ahuja) has been sent to Odisha as per the recommendation of the Prime Minister. The agriculture sector in Odisha is in a pathetic state. A farmer family’s monthly income is around Rs 5112. And 60 per cent of the families here are associated with farming and allied activities. To increase their earning, the farming sector is to be lifted up. And for this, the government may have thought to make the best use of his long experience to bring in changes in the sector.”

“It is also expected that the appointment of a dynamic officer like him will make all the departments active as they had been sluggish during the long tenure of the previous government,” he added. 

The newly-appointed chief secretary will retire in December this year. It is to be seen if the state government will ask the centre for an extension of his tenure.

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