CMO takes control of Life Mission

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With the government‘s much-publicised Life Mission project (aimed at providing homes for all the homeless) not making enough progress as envisaged in the time schedule, the () has taken over the reins of the project.
The government issued an order on Saturday and replaced mission CEO S Harikishore with chief minister ‘s officer on special duty M Sivasankar. The replacement comes two weeks after Harikishore took over as the CEO. At present he is the CEO of Kudumbashree – the implementing agency for another similar central housing project named Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY).

At the review meeting of Life Mission on April 11, the chief minister was dissatisfied with the overall progress of the mission. He had said that even phase-I, with one just housing complex in each district, could not be properly implemented a year after the mission was launched. Chief secretary Paul Antony was asked to immediately launch construction work by zeroing on an agency either through a tender or through accredited government agencies.

Antony‘s decision to recommend Vadakara-based Uralungal Labour Contract Society Ltd (ULCCS) without following the central vigilance commission‘s and finance department‘s guidelines gave rise to controversies. The local self-government department (LSGD) ended up headless when the then department secretary B Ashok was moved out of the department after he pointed out that the move to award work to an accredited agency violated standard procurement procedure.

Subsequently, the then mission CEO Adeela Abdulla – who apparently objected the move to award the work without due procedure -was then eased out and Harikishore was given the task. Though clear reasons are unknown, it is learnt that the reluctance of younger crop of IAS officers – who strictly adhere to rules and procedures -prompted the government to think about taking over the mission‘s execution to CMO.

Though the mission technically falls under LSGD, the department has no permanent secretary. Additional chief secretary TK Jose who was in charge of the department is away on training. Usha Titus is holding it as an additional responsibility in addition to handling higher education. The charge of LSGD secretary has been given as an additional charge to personnel and administrative reforms department special secretary K Gopalakrishna Bhat.

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