Ex-Bengal chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay replies to Centre's show-cause notice

KOLKATA: Former chief secretary of West Bengal Alapan Bandyopdhayay on Thursday replied to the Centre’s show-cause notice served to him under the Disaster Management Act to explain his absence from the cyclone review meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 28, an official said.

In his reply, Bandyopadhyay said that as per the directive of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, he left the meeting for a review of Cyclone Yaas ravaged Digha, a popular sea resort town in Purba Medinipur district, according to the highly-placed official in the secretariat.

The Union Home Ministry had on May 31 served a show-cause notice to Bandyopadhyay under a stringent provision of the Disaster Management Act that entails imprisonment up to two years, amid a tug-of-war between the Centre and the Mamata Banerjee government over him.

Bandyopadhyay was set to retire as the chief secretary on May 31, but the state recently sought and received permission for extension of his tenure for three months as he played a crucial role in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

He was, however, handed over a transfer directive by the Centre, shortly after a row broke out over the prime minister’s post-cyclone review meeting at Kalaikunda airbase, which the CM and state chief secretary did not attend.

Banerjee, along with the chief secretary, met the prime minister for around 15 minutes and left after handing over a report on the devastation caused by the cyclone in the state.

The bureaucrat, instead of reporting to Delhi, chose to retire and he was subsequently appointed as the CM’s chief adviser.