New Delhi: Pradeep Kumar Sinha, secretary in the ministry of power, is the new cabinet secretary, the most powerful position in India’s civil service. His appointment was cleared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to a statement issued by the government on Friday.

Sinha, a 1977 batch Uttar Pradesh-cadre Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, succeeds Ajit Seth.

“The Prime Minister has approved the appointment of Pradeep Kumar Sinha...as the next cabinet secretary, with effect from 13 June 2015," the statement said.

“The Prime Minister has also approved that...Sinha may be appointed as OSD (officer on special duty) in the cabinet secretariat with effect from the date of assumption of charge, till 12 June 2015," the statement added.

While the position is for two years, under the present rules of service, there is an enabling provision for an extension, granting four years of tenure. Sinha will turn 60 in July.

Sinha has been power secretary since July 2013. Before that, he was secretary in the shipping ministry. He was also a special secretary in India’s ministry of petroleum and natural gas.

“He is a quintessential bureaucrat and very diligent in his duties," said a former colleague of Sinha’s, requesting anonymity.

Sinha is moving to the cabinet secretariat at a time when the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government has ushered in a new federal compact between the Union and states, conferring more fiscal autonomy on state administrations and agreeing to the biggest-ever increase in the share of states from the central divisible pool of taxes—from 32% to 42%—for the period 2015-16 to 2020-21.

During his stint at the power ministry, Sinha incubated the idea of making it compulsory for conventional power project developers to build renewable capacity at the same location, a move that increased the potential for eco-friendly electricity.

The Narendra Modi government has put renewable energy at the top of its agenda, in a bid to reduce India’s overwhelming dependence on coal-fuelled power.

It was under Sinha’s watch that the government undertook the bailout of stranded gas-based power projects and proposed amendments to the Electricity Act, 2003, which has set the stage for reforms to separate the so-called carriage and content operations of existing power distribution companies, giving consumers the power to choose and change their power supplier.

Sinha graduated in economics from St Stephen’s College and holds a master’s degree in economics from the Delhi School of Economics.

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