V Karthikeyan Pandian, 5T secretary
Known to be a super bureaucrat who lords over all departments and has the unequivocal sanction of his boss- Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, V Karthikeyan Pandian(The Face behind-Corona Combat Mask) has anchored Odisha’s intense efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
True, Pandian(The Face behind-Corona Combat Mask) is no Chief Secretary. Nor does he helm any department. On paper, he heads the CM’s 5T (teamwork, timeline, transparency, transformation & technology) initiative.
But over the past six months, this all-powerful mandarin has kept the entire state administration on its toes with his visits especially during unearthly hours, rousing up officers out of their comfort zone.
While some officials have applauded his maverick working style, others nurture a quiet resentment but fear profoundly to let the cat out of the bag.
Pandian(The Face behind-Corona Combat Mask), the quiet performer is no longer the closeted officer within the four walls of the influential ‘third corridor’ of power. His on-field performance has disconcerted scores of slothful officers.
In fact, the CM’s most trusted man has shown zero tolerance for corruption, inefficiency and official malfeasance.
Nominally, he may be the 5T secretary but no critical initiative rolls ahead without his approbation. Insiders believe the plan to set up two exclusive state-of-the-art hospitals for treating Coronavirus patients is Pandian’s ideation.
A ruthless implementer, Pandian ensured that the two hospitals announced with much aplomb were commissioned in an astonishing span of a week.
Pandian(The Face behind-Corona Combat Mask) along with the Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy and occasionally Development Commissioner Suresh Chandra Mohapatra did regular recces of the two hospital facilities to make sure they were readied in record time.
For the two hospitals, the state health & family welfare department signed tripartite MoUs (memoranda of understanding).
The first MoU signed with Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) was for a hospital to be sponsored by state-owned mining entity Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC).
Another city-based healthcare facility SUM Hospital took the lead for management of the second Covid hospital where Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) agreed to meet all operative expenses.
Lately, Pandian visited Kendrapara where he exhorted the district administration to set up an exclusive Covid treatment facility, drawing on support from both SUM Hospital and MCL.
Thanks to Pandian’s expansive vision, Odisha has now scaled up its preparedness to tackle Covid pandemic.
The state boasts of seven hospitals with combined bed strength of 1497. A total of 27 Covid hospitals have been envisaged with a bed strength of 4200.
Pandian’s(The Face behind-Corona Combat Mask) no lax supervision has ensured that the state government-mandated lockdown is rigorously followed at the district level.
The 5T secretary asked all the District Collectors and SPs to take necessary action to trace the Nizamuddin Markaz returnees and motivate them for medical assistance and testing for COVID-19.
“Collectors and SPs may request religious leaders in their areas to make repeated appeals and motivate returnees to come forward,” Pandian said in his letter to all the District Collectors and SPs.
“It’s important that civil, police and health administration works in a focused way at all levels to identify the returnees and motivate them for medical assistance and testing,” he added.
Pandian also urged the District Collectors and SPs to scale up health and 104 services and remain to be tuned for calls and action to be followed up.
“Any delay in this is going to cost dearly for the returnee, their own family and the state. Next 48 hrs is very critical and we will go all out on this”, he opined.
Odisha’s penchant for social isolation and home quarantine has already placed the state on the top of the country’s map to tame a deadly pandemic.
CM Naveen Patnaik’s implicit trust in Pandian has proved to be a huge asset and is paying the regional satrap rich dividends in crisis after crisis.