The power corridors of Odisha are abuzz with the new of the sudden transfer of Forest and Environment Minister Bikram Keshari Arukh’s private secretary Dipti Ranjan Behera. Behera has been transferred and posted as joint administrator of KBK, Koraput.
In 2009, when Arukh became minister for the first time, Dipti Ranjan joined as OSD to him. Subsequently, he went on to serve as Under Secretary, Deputy Secretary and Joint Secretary in the department before being appointed as PS to the Minister.
There are reports that the senior Odisha Administrative Officer (OAS), who has been associated with the forest minister for 12 long years, has been transferred without his knowledge. The timing of the transfer has intensified the buzz as it came amid the ongoing investigation into the death of Paralakhemundi assistant conservator of forest (ACF) Soumya Ranjan Mohapatra.
Earlier, the family members of the deceased ACF had pointed fingers at the Forest Minister and alleged pressure from the department in the case.
“We cannot take the transfer of Dipti Ranjan Behera lightly. It can be termed as a surprising move. Bikram Keshari Arukh is known as a powerful minister and transfer of his PS who has been associated with him for 12 long years has certainly intensified buzz in the power corridors,” said senior journalist Prasanna Mohanty.
“The minister’s office has come under the scanner following the death of Paralakhemundi Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) Soumya Ranjan Mohapatra. By merely transferring the PS, the department will not get clean chit. The Minister also cannot be given clean chit. Because, the family members of the deceased forest officer had directly pointed fingers at the minister,” he added.
Reacting to the transfer of Behera, deceased ACF’s father said the move is not enough and the Minister should be brought under the purview of investigation into his son’s death.
“I urge Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to give justice to my son. Transferring the Forest Minister’s PS is not enough. He should be brought under the purview of investigation. The minister should resign from his post on moral grounds. Besides, the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) should be suspended,” demanded deceased ACF’s father Abhiram Mohapatra.