Himachal Urban Development Authority suffers for want of a new CEO

Shimla: With the government unable to fill the top vacancy in Himachal Urban Development Authority (HIMUDA) even after it fell vacant a month and a half ago, workload has piled up and more files are added each day that will have to await a decision till the CEO’s position gets occupied.

Being a organization, where commercial interests matter, not having a regular CEO is effecting our efficiencies, said a middle level officer of HIMUDA on conditions of anonymity.

Sources revealed that after outgoing chief executive officer (CEO) of HIMUDA, SK Sharma retired in April and the election code of conduct ended in mid May, the authorities are looking at appointing an officer from outside the seniority list of the authority.

Plan to grant extension to Sharma were scuttled by the parliamentary elections coming in the way. “The government took a decision of not granting any extension to the retiring CEO,” the source said.

Going by the seniority list SC Sood is next in line but in the absence of a regular CEO, Sarojini Thakur, secretary country and town planning has been handed additional charge.

Kishan Kapoor, minister for urban development and chairman HIMUDA when contacted said, “there was no unusual delay in appointing a new CEO as the election code of conduct only got over at end of May.”

“The issue is under the government consideration and only when a suitable candidate who will help in realizing the objectives of the organization is finalized, would a decision be taken, he said. The organization is not suffering neglect, he added.

In between, only last week, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal held a comprehensive review of the urban development authority, where important decisions were taken but the contentious issue of a new head remained unresolved.

At the review meet, the chief minister asked for ensuring hill architecture designs in building layouts as well as making it mandatory to install water harvesting provisions in new buildings.

Other than being asked to look for cost effective rural housing under different schemes with a strict quality control, the government was also toying with establishing a state Heritage Conservation Advisory Committee and making HIMUDA as the Town and Country Development Authority.

Besides being involved in constructing and selling of houses and commercial properties, it also acts as an regulator with which 221 promoters are registered, of whom 38 have been issued licenses for constructing 9,278 flats at a cost of Rs. 921 crore.

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