Exclusive: Why did TN Chief Secretary Irai Anbu refuse to accept MK Stalin's decision of appointing his brother?

In a government mechanism, the Chief Secretary would typically consent to the decisions made by the Chief Minister and the top bureaucrat of the state will sign the files that got okayed from the Chief Minister. This is a natural event in every Indian state regardless of differences of opinion. However, Tamil Nadu had recently recorded an event where Chief Secretary V Irai Anbu had decided to stay off from the appointment made by Chief Minister MK Stalin.

Between protocol and conscience, Irai Anbu chose the latter: 

For the MK Stalin-led administration, addressing the disaster and creating a flood-free Chennai has become a real test. Chennai has become habitual of witnessing heavy inundation and floods during the rains and the residents have braced up a massive disruption last week when the downpour was incessant. The historical rainfall has blanketed roads, streets, and residential areas and put the entire city into mayhem. As the rainfall had brought back the memories of the 2015 floods, the state government and the Greater Chennai Corporation have endured the Himalayan task of addressing the calamity and rescuing the stranded people. 

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin has visited the affected areas of the city and taken stock of the situation. Amid deploying the measures to tackle the crisis and put the city back to normalcy, the inundation in Chennai has displayed a grim fact that when it comes to rainwater management, nothing has changed in the city for the past six years and besides blaming the previous ADMK regime for its apathy over establishing the system of rainwater management and measures to mitigate the waterlogging, MK Stalin has acknowledged that creating a flood-free Chennai is the real test of his government.

Though the entire government mechanism revolved around the Chennai floods for the past week, the major disruption had irked the Chennaiites and their concerns have levied more responsibility on the current DMK regime that it has to prioritise in addressing this crisis. Though swift redressal is not possible, the government must work on clearing minor glitches and blocks that prevent rainwater from draining out. As the urban local body elections would be held soon, the DMK government must upscale its efforts in mitigating the flood risk in the city and to address that, MK Stalin has recently made a significant pick - retired IAS Officer V Thiruppugazh. 

MK Stalin-led government has formed an advisory panel on mitigation and management of flood risk in Chennai and he has appointed notable bureaucrat Thiruppugazh as the panel head. In what has become a crucial formation, this panel would advise the government over addressing such a crisis and enhancing measures to tackle the calamity. But, while MK Stalin has decided to appoint V Thiruppugazh to head the panel to mitigate the flood risk in the city, Chief Secretary V Irai Anbu refused to accept the appointment and didn't sign the appointment file, not because of dissent but because Thiruppugazh is the elder brother of Irai Anbu and these bureaucratic siblings are well known. 

Why did Irai Anbu refuse to accept the appointment of his brother? 

According to our sources, when the file of his brother's appointment went to his table for his consent, Irai Anbu refused it. He wrote in the file, "Thiruppugazh is my brother. It won't be healthy if I accept his appointment and it will create unnecessary debates. I don't agree with this (appointment) and I can't recommend him. Let the Chief Minister decide. I can't able to sign this file." With his observation, the file moved to the Chief Minister's Office and MK Stalin was in a strong mind that he has to get Thiruppugazh to the panel. 

Our sources say that the Chief Minister has decided to go with Thiruppugazh and Irai Anbu have nothing to play in Thiruppugazh's appointment and neither does the appointment happen on the basis of brotherhood. The head of the panel won't get paid by the government. MK Stalin was determined to rope in retired IAS officer Thiruppugazh as he has vast experience in addressing such disasters nationally and the Chief Minister thought that the service of the former bureaucrat is required for Tamil Nadu currently. Based on this, the appointment has happened. 

Thiruppugazh's journey: 

Besides bringing a vast knowledge in managing a disaster, Thiruppugazh was widely known to be a former aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which had made Stalin's pick gain more importance. A 1991 batch IAS Officer, Thiruppugazh was said to be close to the Prime Minister. He had served in a key post in the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority when Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister. Thiruppugazh had also served as an Additional Secretary (Policy and Plan) in the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) under Prime Minister Modi. It must be noted that the Prime Minister is the ex-officio chairperson of the NDMA. 

Thiruppugazh was a Gujarat cadre IAS officer and a native of Salem, Tamil Nadu. He played an important role in addressing and rescuing the affected people from the earthquake in Gujarat in 2001. Importantly, Thiruppugazh has served as the secretary of Narendra Modi when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat from 2005 to 2006. When Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, Thiruppugazh was called by the Prime Minister's Office to serve in the NDMA and appointed him as an Additional Secretary. 

When Nepal faced a severe earthquake in 2015, the Union government has sent Thiruppugazh to the neighbouring country to provide advice and suggestions to reconstruct the infrastructure and to enhance the measures to address the disasters. While serving in the NDMA, Thiruppugazh had led a team and visited Chennai and Kancheepuram in June 2017. His team's findings were part of the report published by the NDMA titled 'Tamil Nadu Floods- Lessons Learnt & Best Practices'. The reports say that the Chennai Corporation has written to the Tamil Nadu government seeking an advisory panel for the mitigation of floods in the city. Based on its suggestion, the government has formed the panel and appointed Thiruppugazh as its head.