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New Delhi: In the first major bureaucratic reshuffle since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came back to power in May, the Centre on Wednesday changed the secretaries of 12 government departments. While finance secretary Subhash Chandra Garg was appointed as the power secretary, disinvestment secretary Atanu Chakraborty, a 1985 batch Gujarat cadre IAS officer, will replace Garg as the economic affairs secretary in the finance ministry.

Garg is believed to be behind the budget proposal for overseas sovereign borrowing, which has faced severe criticism from several experts, including former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governors. Garg was also at a loggerheads with the Bimal Jalan committee, set up to decide RBI’s economic capital framework, and had submitted a dissent note to the committee.

Garg, a 1983 batch IAS officer of the Rajasthan cadre, will take over his responsibilities at the critical infrastructure ministry amid a crisis faced by distribution companies due to their poor financial health, leading to delays in payments to power generation utilities. Garg also assumes office at a time when a new power sector package is in the offing, comprising a new tariff policy and structural reforms. The power sector is reeling under bad loans worth about 1 trillion, with around 66 gigawatts (GW) facing various degrees of financial stress.

Anil Kumar Khachi, a 1986 batch Himachal Pradesh IAS officer, will move from his home posting to take over as the disinvestment secretary in the department of investment and public asset management.

The wide-ranging changes in the apex bureaucratic framework comes at a time when the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, in its second term, has set an ambitious task of making India a $5 trillion economy by 2025.

The appointments committee of the cabinet headed by the Prime Minister finalized the postings on Wednesday. Posts of another 12 bureaucrats have been upgraded to the level of special secretary in rank, and pay of secretary.

Power secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla has been made the officer on special duty in the home ministry with immediate effect. He will take over from Rajiv Gauba as the home secretary, when he retires on 31 August.

Bhalla, who will report directly to home minister Amit Shah, takes over at a critical time, with Shah set to rejig the ministry’s dealings in conflict areas, including Jammu and Kashmir, and Naxal-hit Chhattisgarh. Bhalla will have a fixed two-year tenure as home secretary.

Bhalla and his team had put in place a successful template for the allocation of natural resources that is used as a primer for the allotment of other natural resources. The cheerful, straight-talking Bhalla has been an integral part of the NDA government’s plan to supply round-the-clock power to all.

Airports Authority of India chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra will become the new secretary of the department for promotion of industry and internal trade. Mohapatra, a 1986 batch Gujarat cadre IAS officer, had earlier served as a joint secretary in the department of commerce.

Anshu Prakash, who is currently serving as an additional secretary in the department of telecommunications, has been promoted as the DoT secretary, while Ravi Capoor from the Assam-Meghalaya cadre will become the textiles secretary.

P.D. Vaghela, currently serving his home cadre in Gujarat, will be the secretary in the ministry of chemicals and fertilizers, while Anuradha Mitra, the member finance in the ministry of communications, will take over as the secretary, department of official language.

Shaswati Das contributed to this story.

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