New Delhi: Pradeep Kumar Sinha, an IAS officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, was on Friday appointed the new cabinet secretary. He will succeed Ajit Seth.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the appointment of Pradeep Kumar Sinha as the next cabinet secretary with effect from June 13, 2015,” a PMO press release said.
Sources said the government appoints the cabinet secretary 15 days to one month before the date of his formal taking over and the senior official then works as officer on special duty in the cabinet secretariat.
Sinha, a 1977 batch IAS officer, was secretary, power, before his elevation as cabinet secretary.
He has served in several other ministries, including shipping and petroleum and natural gas.
Seth was appointed cabinet secretary by the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2011 and was given two extensions by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday launched a 60-billion-rupee ($842 million) plan to tackle water shortages in the country’s seven heartland states where agriculture is a mainstay.
India, the world’s second-most populous country, faces the worst long-term water crisis in its history as demand outstrips supply, threatening farm output and overall economic growth in Asia’s third-largest economy.
Almost every sector of the $2.6 trillion economy is dependent on water, especially agriculture, which sustains two-thirds of India’s 1.3 billion people.
“Water shortages in the country not only affect individuals and families; the crisis also has an effect on India’s development,” Modi said. “We need to prepare the new India to deal with every single aspect of the crisis.”
The plan launched by Modi would help replenish ground water and boost overall availability in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat states, which produce staples such as rice, wheat, sugar and oilseeds.
India is the world’s leading producer of an array of farm goods, and nearly 60% of the irrigation for agriculture comes from ground water, mainly through electric water pumps. Subsidised electricity gives farmers an incentive to pump out more water, a key reason behind fast-depleting water tables in the vast country.
Supplying clean drinking water to millions of poor people and reviving moribund irrigation projects were a key part of Modi’s policies for India, where the monsoon accounts for nearly 70% of the annual rains needed to water farms and recharge aquifers and reservoirs.
Nearly half of India’s farmland, without any irrigation cover, depends on annual June-September rains to grow a number of crops.
Drinking water is also an issue, as about 200,000 Indians die every year due to inadequate access to safe water and 600 million face high to extreme water stress, according to the National Institute for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, a think tank chaired by Modi.
According to UK-based charity WaterAid, about 163 million people in India — roughly 12% of the population — do not have access to clean water close to home.