In a declaration of an additional ten days of lock-down which drew significant protests from citizens, the state government on Saturday issued sudden transfer orders of top bureaucrats from the city.
A day after he spoke out against the decision to impose a 10-day lockdown in Pune, the Maharashtra government, in a surprise move, transferred Municipal Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad. He will be replaced by Vikram Kumar, who is currently the chief executive officer of Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA).
Gaikwad will once again hold the post of Commissioner of Sugar, which he had held before being appointed the chief of Pune Municipal Corporation in January this year. He had taken over from Saurabh Rao, who was appointed the Commissioner of Sugar. Now, Rao has been appointed the Officer on Special Duty at the Pune Divisional Commissionerate.
After Divisional Commissioner Deepak Mhaisekar announced the decision to impose a 10-day lockdown in both Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad on Friday, on the directions of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Gaikwad had told The Indian Express he had opposed the move in the review meeting.
Gaikwad said he has never hesitated while expressing his views. “I express my views fearlessly, I have never hesitated about putting them plainly. If a certain thing is right, I have stood for it, if it is not appropriate I have taken a stand. I don’t want to be shackled…,” he said.
“I don’t know whether I was transferred for speaking against the lockdown. But I speak about things I strongly feel about…I am not like others. I don’t hold myself back when certain things happen… I am not a strategist like others…,” said the outgoing PMC chief.
Gaikwad said when he was the sugar commissioner, he had taken several “positive decisions”. “The farmers were stunned when I was transferred… Even now, I am getting calls from people who liked the way I worked. This is my achievement. What else do you want other than public acclaim,” he said.
While civic officials said Gaikwad had led from the front in his fight against Covid-19 in Pune and played a crucial role in bringing life back to normal in the city after relaxation of lockdown norms, some elected representatives had complained that he had single-handedly taken all decisions related to containing the spread of the disease without consulting them.
Earlier, Gaikwad’s decision to implement lockdown norms only in micro-containment zones had not gone well with Mayor Murlidhar Mohol, who had publicly criticised the decision.