Kejriwal could take charge of water dept from Gautam
NEW DELHI: In an attempt to focus more on water and sewerage issues in the national Capital, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is set to take over the Water department from Rajendra Pal Gautam, who had been given charge of the department three months back.
Resolving the continued hassles with sewer cleaning and water crisis is the need of the hour, which led Kejriwal to take the decision.
Kejriwal met Gautam at his residence on Saturday and conveyed the decision to him.
According to sources, the Chief Minister realised that managing the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) needed more authoritative power, which Kejriwal has.
DJB is the main decision-making body for the water and sewerage related issues, and is directly under the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi.
This will be Kejriwal's first ministerial portfolio since taking over as Chief Minister in February 2015.
The decision also comes following a series of deaths in the city while cleaning sewers and septic tanks. The sewer network in the national capital comes under the DJB.
Sources said that after these deaths, Gautam reportedly took stringent action against a group of DJB authorities, which the Board did not approve.
With speculations of more conflict, the Chief Minister decided to intervene.
However, there is no official confirmation on this issue from the government has come yet.
Sources in Aam Aadmi Party observed that Gautam has always obeyed party rules and never gone against any decision. This is likely to happen in this case as well.
Meanwhile, a senior DJB official alleged that Gautam wanted the transfer order of a section engineer (SE), whose role in the Lajpat Nagar sewer mishap case is under the scanner, to be reversed.
According to DJB officials, the minister initially wanted the engineer to be transferred. Later, for unknown reasons, he wanted the order to be reversed.
"The DJB CEO refused to do so as the person is alleged to have forged documents related to the Lajpat Nagar deaths. And the decision to remove him as the minister came soon after," an official said.
Informally briefing some reporters about the same, a government spokesperson said it will help Kejriwal personally monitor issues related to water and sewerage, which are "priority areas" of the AAP government.
Gautam will continue to hold the portfolios of SC & ST, Social Welfare, Cooperative and Gurudwara Elections.