By Pravin Sharma
The six-month extension for chief secretary Usha Sharma may have denied the state a new face as the chief secretary but it has definitely given an opportunity to Veenu Gupta, the second senior most bureaucrat in the state to apply for the chairman of Real Estate Regulatory Authority ( RERA ) Rajasthan. According to sources, Veenu Gupta has applied for the post despite the fact that she is still left with 6-month in her superannuation. At present she is handling important portfolios like industries, mines, petroleum and investment among others.
Apart from Gupta, two retired IAS officers – Ravi Shankar Srivastava and P K Goyal – have also applied for this coveted post as the last date for application for the post ends today.
Ravi Shankar Srivastava, a 1985 batch officer is the senior most among the three and got retired on September 30, 2022, while P K Goyal three batches junior to him retired in January this year.
“It's surprising that Veenu Gupta, a serving officer has applied for the post. There were words in the power corridor that Usha Sharma may become RERA chairman after superannuation on June 30 and Veenu Gupta may replace her. However, unexpected extension to her has changed the equations. Now, Gupta has thrown her hat in the ring and is the top contender,” said a senior bureaucrat.
The post of RERA chairman had fallen vacant in April this year after former chief secretary N C Goel completed his term. Grapevine is that this post was kept vacant till date to accommodate Usha Sharma after her retirement.
“If she would not have got extension, there was great chances that Usha Sharma would have been selected as the RERA chief. Usha Sharma is a close relative of senior Congress leader C P Joshi, who is speaker of Rajasthan assembly. Her husband B N Sharma, also a retired IAS officer, is occupying the office of another regulatory body – Rajasthan Electricity Regulatory Commission (RERC),” said another senior bureaucrat, who is not on a key position in this dispensation.
Post of RERA chief
The position of Chairman of RERA is a selection post and interested candidates are invited to apply. A high power committee, led by the Chief Justice of the High Court, with members including the Principal Secretary UDH and Secretary Law, will then select the most suitable candidate for the position. To be eligible for the post, the candidate must be an official of the seniority of Additional Secretary in the Government of India or a technocrat, and the tenure of the Chairman is five years or until the age of 65.
Race is between Veenu Gupta and P K Goyal
Since the extension spoilt the party for Veenu Gupta, the state government may consider her for this prized post. She has been a great administrator throughout her 35 years of career. She is positioned perfect to be the successor of N C Goel, who served the chairman of RERA from March 2019-2023 April. During his tenure more than 2500 projects got registered.
The next in the race is P K Goyal who retired as the Additional Chief Secretary of Education department. He is among rare bureaucrats along with currently serving Subodh Agarwal, who volunteered to work under then chief secretary Niranjan Arya, who was a batch junior to him in the secretariat. During Goyal's tenure, the controversial episode of REET paper leak happened. The third contender Ravi Shankar Srivastava is not considered serious player as he doesn't enjoy a good rapport with the current dispensation. He career has also been marred with controversy as he remained suspended for 6 years since 2004 after the state's anti-corruption bureau registered a case of corruption against him.
Srivastava was indicted by the ACB while working as a member of the Board of Revenue and the Rajasthan government put him under suspension as per the All India Service (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969. He is also facing prosecution for a case of disproportionate assets.
In 2010, when he was finally brought back in the service, he continued his legal battle for promotion and right and finally in April 2018, he was able to sit on the top chair of ACS.
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