Pune gets new Municipal Commissioner Vikram Kumar; Shekhar Gaikwad ousted after opposing re-lockdown in city

ST Staff
Saturday, 11 July 2020

“Cases will increase as we are testing more and those numbers can come down if we test less but that would be against the government norms,” Pune Municipal Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad had said.

Pune: A day after he opposed the idea of re-imposing lockdown in the city during a review meeting with Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Pune Municipal Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad has been transferred as the Sugar Commissioner of Maharashtra. Vikram Kumar who was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA) has replaced Gaikwad as Pune’s new Municipal Commissioner.

Deputy CM Ajit Pawar had requested the government to transfer certain officers. Gaikwad was brought in as Pune’s Municipal Commissioner just days after the Mahavikas Aghadi government came into power. He was serving as the state Sugar Commissioner earlier. A few months after he took charge, Gaikwad had to undergo the biggest challenge the civic administration has faced in recent decades of handling an epidemic. Gaikwad’s work in keeping the number of COVID cases low in Pune city was appreciated by all but he was recently under pressure as the count of COVID-patients increased due to increased testing capacity of the public health system. When Pawar took the review meeting, Gaikwad was among the few who was not in favour of re-imposing a lockdown in the city. Gaikwad was of the opinion that the re-lockdown will not benefit the citizens. “Cases will increase as we are testing more and those numbers can come down if we test less but that would be against the government norms,” Gaikwad had said.

Since the 10-day strict lockdown decision was announced, it was expected that transfers won’t happen as the lockdown implementation needs to be perfect. However, the government move has surprised citizens. The state government had similarly transferred Mumbai Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi amid the rising cases of COVID-19 in Mumbai.

Apart from Gaikwad, the most talked about posting is of Saurabh Rao, who was the Sugar Commissioner and deputed on special duty for COVID-19 in Pune city. Rao has been transferred to the Divisional Commissioner office as a Special Officer and is expected to take charge as the new Divisional Commissioner of Pune region. He will replace Dr Deepak Mhaisekar who is set to retire from service on July 31. Meanwhile, State Agricultural Commissioner Suhas Divase has been made the new PMRDA CEO.

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