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By the Way

Lost on the highway

Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport and Highways and Shipping, might not be aware of what is happening in the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) yet. The Secretary of the Ministry, Vijay Chibber, is an efficient officer and has some clout in the system. The present NHAI Chairman, RP Singh, a close confidant of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is on his way out. Ajoy Mehta, a 1984-batch IAS officer of the Maharashtra cadre, is likely to join as Member, Administration, and may take over as Chairman. On the outside, it appears that the NHAI is managed by bureaucrats but basically it’s a technical organisation, dominated by engineers. The Chief General Manager runs the whole organisation like the Station House Officer (SHO) in the police. Several allegations and letters have been circulated regarding the appointment of CGMs on the whims and fancies of top-ranking Ministry officials, defying the regular recruitment norms set by the Ministry. As per Cabinet approval, only 25 per cent posts are to be filled by Ministry officers and that too up to the level of GM only. However, six vacancies out of nine are the reason for the current controversy. As per reports from Parliament Street, which houses the office of the Ministry, there is allegedly rampant corruption in the selection of the CGMs. Sources disclose that the brother of one of the top officials is the facilitator for the work in NHAI and he is allegedly involved in the selection of CGMs. Is Gadkari aware?

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