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Odisha government relieves 9 IAS officers from COVID-19 duty

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NEW DELHI:The Odisha government has relieved nine senior IAS officers from COVID-19 duty, an official said.\n\nThe officers have been spared of COVID-19 duty so that they could attend to their original administrative responsibilities, the official said.\n\n"Some senior officers engaged in COVID duty have been spared to attend to their original administrative responsibilities. They performed very well under trying circumstances. We thank them for their dedication," Chief Secretary A K Tripathy wrote on his official twitter handle.\n\nSenior IAS officer and Industry secretary Hemant Sharma, who was supervising in the procurement of essential pharmaceutical goods, PPEs, masks and critical care equipment for COVID-19, has been rescinded since June 1, a notification by the General Administration department said.\n\nThe state government had earlier shifted senior IAS officer N B Dhal from Health and Family welfare department in middle of the states fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.\n\nDhal has been appointed as secretary in Energy department.\n\nThe officers who have been rescinded from COVID duty are: Water Resources secretary Surendra Kumar, Sports secretary V K Dev, Works Secretary Krishna Kumar, director social welfare Aravind Agarwal, Tourism director Sachin Ramchandra Yadav, State Project Director of OSEPA Bhupinder Singh Poonia.\n\nThis apart, Labour secretary Anu Garg and Director Sports R Vineel Krishna were also withdrawn from their COVID- 19 duties.\n\nThese officers had been entrusted with different responsibilities in Covid management in addition to their departmental duties.\n\nThe government action in removing Hemant Sharma and rescinding other officers came in the backdrop of a recent controversy when the state government refused to take delivery of PPEs, masks and sanitiser brought in more than 20 trucks which were stranded outside Odisha State Medical Corporation Ltd (OSMCL) warehouse, about a week ago.\n\nHowever, the government later decided to accept only PPEs, which had arrived here by May 31.\n\nThe development triggered a sharp reaction from political parties with opposition Congress and BJP alleging that it smacked of corruption in COVID management as the same equipment were purchased by the state government at different prices from different suppliers.\n\n"We demand a CBI probe into the procurement of the equipment for COVID-19 management in the state. There has been allegation of irregularities in the purchase and a thorough inquiry is needed," senior Congress leader and trade union leader Rama Chandra Khuntia said.\n\nOPCC spokesperson Sudarshan Das said: "Just removal of some officers from crucial positions will not give justice. A high level inquiry into the matter of procurement should be made."\n\nBJP state general secretary Lekhashree Samantsinghar also demanded a high level probe into the incident. "The procurement is not at all transparent. Same things have been procured from different companies at varied rates," she claimed.\n\nCountering the opposition charge, senior BJD leader and former minister Sashi Bhushan Behera said corruption has never been allowed by the Naveen Patnaik government. If at all any irregularity in Covid management comes to notice, appropriate action will certainly be taken, he said.\n\nSource: Press Trust of India

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