Husband-wife team rule Gujarat energy space

Vol 24, PW 15 (17 Jun 21) People & Policy

Advice for ambitious couples: do your best, aim for power and reach for the sky, just like Mamta Verma and Sanjeev Kumar.

This husband and wife duo are now effectively in charge of Gujarat's energy sector after Verma was appointed Gujarat's new principal secretary in the Energy and Petrochemicals Department (EPD). Verma's appointment came in a spate of transfers announced by Gujarat additional chief secretary Kamal Dayani in a six-page order on June 9 (2021).

Verma, 49, moves from her earlier job as principal secretary in the industries and mines department, looking after tourism, temple management, pilgrimages and civil aviation. She replaces (Ms) Sunaina Tomar, who moved sideways to become an additional chief secretary in the social justice and empowerment department.

In her new role, Verma will be supervising her husband, Sanjeev Kumar, managing director of GSPC, joint MD of BSE-listed Gujarat State Petronet, MD of BSE-listed Gujarat Gas, and chairman of the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB). "Technically speaking, all GSPC managing directors must report to the EPD secretary," smiles a source.

"Now, Kumar will report to his wife!" As principal secretary in the EPD, Verma also holds critical charge of ensuring water supplies from the Narmada and Kalpasar dam projects. In the Gujarat bureaucracy, no one doubts she is a rising star.

"(Chief minister) Vijay Rupani is happy with her," reports a secretariat source. "She played an important role in the last three Vibrant Gujarat summits and had good exposure to the energy brief both as the secretary in the industries department and also as the industries commissioner of Gujarat."

Verma was the secretary in the industries department from September 4 (2019) to June 9 (2021) and the industries commissioner from August 28 (2014) to September 3 (2019). "Her biggest plus point is that she is receptive to new ideas," says another secretariat source, who adds she is friendly, down-to-earth and approachable.