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Bihar's Principal Health Secretary Transferred amid Surging Covid-19 Cases

Migrant workers cover themselves with a scarf to protect from the heat in New Delhi. (Reuters)

Migrant workers cover themselves with a scarf to protect from the heat in New Delhi. (Reuters)

The Bihar government on Monday removed Health Department's Principal Secretary Uday Singh Kumawat and replaced him with senior IAS officer Pratayaya Amrit, t.

  • PTI
  • Last Updated: July 27, 2020, 11:10 PM IST
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The Bihar government on Monday removed Health Department's Principal Secretary Uday Singh Kumawat and replaced him with senior IAS officer Pratayaya Amrit, the third to occupy the position since COVID-19 ripped through the state. The top-level reshuffle comes days after the Indian Medical Association's Bihar chapter wrote to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar demanding Kumawat's removal due to his "indifferent behaviour" towards doctors.

Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey had reportedly complained to the chief minister that Kumawat was not listening to him. According to a notification issued by the General Administration Department (GAD), Amrit, the 1991-batch IAS officer and principal secretary of the Disaster Management Department, will be the new principal secretary of the Health Department while Kumawat has been made advisor of the Bihar State Planning Board, Patna, till further orders.

Kumawat has also been relieved of his additional charge of the Director General of Bihar Public Administration and Rural Development, the notification said. Amrit, who is also the principal secretary of the Energy Department, will continue to hold the additional charge of the Disaster Management Department, it said.

However, he has been relieved of his additional charge as Chief Managing Director of Bihar State Power (Holding) Company Ltd, the notification added. "It's a challenging task… I will assume charge (Health Principal Secretary) tomorrow and get into the job without any loss of time. My action will speak more than my words," Amrit later told reporters.

"I will energise officials and try to work as a team to check the rapid spread of the infection," he added. Though, the GAD notification did not cite any reason for the abrupt reshuffle, but media reports said Chief Minister Kumar seemed to be angry over low number of tests being conducted in the state despite an upsurge in COVID-19 cases.

The reports also suggested that Bihar Health minister Mangal Pandey had even complained to the chief minister that the officer was not listening to him which further angered Kumar. In its letter written to the chief minister on Saturday last, the IMA also complained about Kumawat not doing much for improving COVID-19 treatment facilities, especially in the districts, IMA Bihar general secretary Dr Sunil Kumar said.

Kumawat, a 1993-batch IAS officer, had taken over the charge of the health department from Sanjay Kumar of the 1990 batch on May 20 last on the backdrop of rising number of cases. The number of COVID-19 infections has been increasing rapidly in Bihar, which has been witnessing more than 2,000 cases in a day in the past few days.

The state's infection tally rose to 41,111 on Monday. A total of 255 people in Bihar have died due to the coronavirus.

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