Khanday’s sudden exit will deepen administrative crisis

SRINAGAR: The bureaucracy in Kashmir frets that if the government accepts chief secretary Iqbal Khandey’s request for voluntary retirement and appoints BR Sharma in his place, a festering crisis in the administration will only worsen.
They fear that three senior IAS officers—Arun Kumar, Sonali Kumar and Khurshid Ganaie—may follow in Khandey’s footsteps if Sharma, who is their junior, gets the top post. If that happens, the state administration will lose three senior officers at a time when it is already short of 32 officers in the authorised strength of 137. And to add to its woes, 13 officers will be retiring in the coming months.
Besides Khanday, who is to retire in November, chairman Special Tribunal Sonali Kumar (November 2015) and Financial Commissioner (Industries) Khursheed Ahmed Ganai (October 2015) and Ashok Angurana (April 2016) are other top officers retiring soon.
“This means the shortage of 32 will rise to 48. It means either more officers will be inducted on central deputation or the existing ones will be burdened with charge of more departments. There are chances of induction of new officers but the number would not meet the demand,” an official said.
Sources said the administration is run by about 84 people, including about 20 officers on central deputation. Of the authorized strength of 137—75 from direct recruitment posts and 62 promotion posts— less than 65 are direct IAS officers and about 40 are in the promotion quota, while the remaining posts are vacant.
“Among the 65 IAS officers, about 15 are on central deputation which means less than 45 direct IAS recruits are running the important administrative post of the state. In fact, more than a dozen of them are on probation with little or no administrative experience. In the promotion quota J&K has about 40 officers in place, of them, nine would be retiring by the end of this year,” an official said.