The Centre has received Alapan Bandopadhyay’s reply to its show-cause notice served to him under the disaster management act to explain his absence from Prime Minister’s Narendra Modi’s meeting last month and is being examined, according to news agency ANI. “Further course of action will be decided soon,” ANI tweeted citing people familiar with the development.
On Thursday, Alapan Bandopadhyay replied to the Centre’s May 31 show-cause notice, saying that he left for Cyclone Haas-hit Digha, a resort town in Purba Medinipur district, on orders from chief minister Mamata Banerjee. The West Bengal government also sent its reply to the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) on the matter on the same day—the last for sending it. Chief secretary HK Dwivedi, who succeeded Bandopadhyay, wrote the reply.
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The Union home ministry served the show-cause notice to Bandopadhyay under a stringent provision of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, that entails imprisonment up to two years after a tussle between the Centre and the Mamata Banerjee government.
Mamata chose to meet Prime Minister Modi for a shorter period instead of a longer planned review meeting at Kalaikunda airbase to review the damage brought about by Cyclone Yaas on May 28. They left within minutes after giving a representation to the Prime Minister and without attending it. It triggered a political row as leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Union ministers accused Banerjee of insulting Modi.
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Bandopadhyay, a 1987-batch Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer of West Bengal cadre, was set to retire on May 31 but the state sought permission for an extension of his tenure for three months saying his services was needed in the Bengal as he played a crucial role in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. He was granted permisson to continue.
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But the Centre asked Alapan Bandopadhyay to report for New Delhi by 10am on May 31, his last working day, and directed the state government to release him immediately. The senior bureaucrat, instead of reporting to Delhi, chose to retire and he was subsequently appointed as the CM’s chief adviser sparking another war of words between the Centre and the state government.