A new Industries Secretary for Tamil Nadu

Vol 4, PW 11 (05 Jul 00) People & Policy

Companies with LNG and power interests in Tamil Nadu would do well to get to know Shakti Kanta Das, the state's new industries secretary.

Indian regional state secretaries wield considerable power. Das, for example, controls the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) and the Tamil Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO).

Aged 43, he is originally from Orissa and is widely respected in official circles. Journalists speak of him as an, "affable, accessible and intelligent officer, who speaks freely but can still be guarded in what he says." Das reveals that as Industries Secretary his immediate priority is "to carry forward ongoing projects" and to look into problems ofconventional industries such as textiles, leather and sugar.

Immediately prior to assuming his new position, Das was Secretary in the Social Welfare & Nutritious Meal Programme Department of Tamil Nadu - an important but low-key post. It was during an earlier stint as Managing Director of the Tamilnadu Corporation for Industrial Infrastructure Development (TACID) that he dealt with the complexities of the power sector.

At TACID, Das witnessed the selection of sites for the now-shelved 20 short gestation liquid fuel power projects. In private he makes no secret of his displeasure over the manner of selection.

It is believed former Industries Secretary PC Cyriac and former TIDCO Chairman MS Srinivasan sat in meetings and selected project sites at random from a large map on the wall, without any regard to the feasibility of the locations. Result: not a single project has materialised.