New Delhi: Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan Wednesday removed IAS officer Prateek Hajela as the Madhya Pradesh health commissioner. Hajela was in-charge of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise in Assam until last year.
Sources in the MP government said Hajela has been removed for gross negligence in combating coronavirus. Faiz Ahmad Kidwai, a 1996-batch IAS officer, has now been made the health commissioner.
“The chief minister, while carrying out a review of the coronavirus situation, gave directions to remove the health commissioner (Hajela) for gross negligence. Directions have been issued to remove him with immediate effect,” said a senior Madhya Pradesh official who did not wish to be named.
The official said that the CM has given strict directions that no senior official will be spared if found lacking in their work to control the Covid-19 pandemic. An order to this effect was issued by the state chief secretary.
Why Chouhan got upset with Hajela
After taking charge as CM of Madhya Pradesh, Chouhan has been taking regular meetings on the coronavirus situation. So far, 86 cases have been reported in the state, of which 20 were reported Wednesday. Five persons have died — three in Indore and two in Ujjain.
According to a source, Chouhan got upset with Hajela during a meeting Wednesday to review the situation.
“The chief minister asked him a few questions and he wasn’t able to respond. Also, he tried to give incorrect information, which the CM was able to catch as he keeps a diary and takes notes every day. The CM told him he doesn’t want insincere people and gave directions for his removal,” the source added.
Who is Hajela?
Hajela is an IAS officer (1995 batch) from the Madhya Pradesh cadre. On the directions of the Supreme Court, he was given the charge of updating the NRC in Assam.
As the NRC coordinator, Hajela had courted a number of controversies since the exclusion of almost 40 lakh people from the list, and had come under criticism from the BJP, which heads a three-party coalition in that state, for trying to publish an erroneous NRC.
The Narendra Modi government at the Centre and the Assam government had suggested a re-verification exercise of documents in the districts bordering Bangladesh, but based on Hajela’s submission, the Supreme Court had turned it down. This had angered the BJP’s state unit.
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