Sheela Balakrishnan to be New TN Chief Secretary

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Sheela Balakrishnan to be New TN Chief Secretary

Sheela Balakrishnan, a 1976 batch IAS official, will replace Debendranath Sarangi as the next chief secretary of Tamil Nadu, the state government announced on Friday.

She will be the third woman chief secretary of the state. Interestingly, she will also supersede her husband R Balakrishnan, who is the seniormost IAS officer in the state. Balakrishnan is also from her batch.

While Balakrishnan is to retire in July next, Sheela Balakrishnan has 15 months of service left.

Her earlier stint as secretary to the chief minister from 2002 to 2006, when J Jayalalithaa was in power, weighed in her favour, said a senior official.

Sarangi is retiring on December 31. The government, however, has not announced as to when Sheela will take over. Five other IAS officers from the 1976 batch, including Syed Munir Hoda, former secretary to previous chief minister, have already retired without getting an opportunity to serve as chief secretary of the state.

A native of Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, Sheela Balakrishnan has worked in various departments like personnel and administrative reforms, transport, municipal administration and water supply as secretary. But she has never been a district collector because she chose to remain with her family and opted out of district assignments. At the time of regime change in 2006, she was transferred to an insignificant post in Salem. A year later, she was shifted to Chennai as director, planning and development at Anna Institute of Management, where she continued till 2011 elections.

Sarangi, one year junior to Sheela in service, however, made it to the top post when Jayalalithaa returned to power. He was at the helm of affairs at a time when Tamil Nadu faced its worst ever power crisis. Also, during the past one year, Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission, the power ombudsman in the state, has gone without a chairman because the selection committee headed by Sarangi failed to select a candidate for the post. There was a speculation that services of Sarangi would be extended for six months.

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