Vol. 6 | issue 7 | August 2012
A Maratha with finesse
Senior Maharashtra IAS officer Ajit Nimbalkar is the epitome of a development-oriented bureaucrat.
The ultimate dream of any bureaucrat is to retire as Secretary in the Central Government or as Chief Secretary of a State. At 68 years of age, Ajit Nimbalkar, a retired Maharashtra cadre Indian Administrative Service Officer of the 1967 batch, has had the satisfaction of having experienced it all. He retired as Chief Secretary of Maharashtra in 2004 and prior to that he was the Secretary, Defense Production in New Delhi.
All through, it has been a long and eventful journey, which has seen him in the forefront of action in a variety of ways at the Centre or the State. He saw action from the closest quarters as Secretary to two of the most powerful Chief Ministers of Maharashtra – Vasant Dada Patil and Sharad Pawar. This apart, he was Chief Secretary of Maharashtra during the terms of Vilas Rao Deshmukh and Sushil Kumar Shinde. In fact, Deshmukh as Chief Minister pitched for him to be brought back to the State as Chief Secretary.
Whether it was a question of dealing with the textile strike called by belligerent trade-union leader Dutta Samant as the Commissioner of Labour, initiating the first-ever dialogue with Enron for private investment in the power sector in Maharashtra or starting the initial negotiations with the Bodo militants in North East as the Special Secretary (Home) in the Government of India, there has never been a dull moment in his life. This apart as Joint Secretary and DG (Employment and Vocational Training), he brought in the first World Bank vocational training project, developed roads from the Ghat to the Deccan Plateau as part of the Road Development Corporation, set up new power stations as the head of the State Electricity Board and distributed natural gas to reluctant buyers on behalf of Mahanagar Gas Ltd.
Early in life as the director of sugar factories in Maharashtra, Nimbalkar helped groups of farmers without any previous experience of running an industry to come together to start as many as 86 factories. It was the peak period of development of cooperative sugar factories in the State. It was also a period when he was able to assemble a group of farmers not knowing how to run an industry to come together. They needed to be helped first in drafting the proposal, getting it cleared at the State level and to get a license from the Central Government. Then came the question of arranging finances. As the director of sugar factories, he had to appear on behalf of the farmers. “It was almost like setting up multiple new units. I learnt a lot how leadership from rural areas can take such positive steps given proper guidance. They may have started with sugar factories but afterwards they became growth centres… schools, colleges, hospitals, roads. Overnight, the rural areas became centres of development,” he says.
His stint as Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation saw him chasing deadlines to complete the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and the Bandra-Worli sea link. He also served as the first Chairman of the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority, a qausi-judicial post after retirement and is now a non-official part-time Director on the Board of NTPC.............READ MORE