'Full-time aviation watchdog chief by July-end'

'Full-time aviation watchdog chief by July-end' New Delhi: A day after appointing an interim chief of the aviation regulator, the government was Wednesday considering the appointment by July-end of an official who will head the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in a full-time capacity for at least one year.

"The ministry had sent its recommendation to the appointments committee of cabinet (ACC) for the chief of the DGCA. But due to a procedural lapse no action was taken on the same. We expect to have a full-time DGCA chief soon," a civil aviation ministry source told IANS.

"Yesterday's (Tuesday) reshuffle was just an exercise to put things in the right order."

According to the official, the ministry expects that the appointments committee will soon give orders for posting Arun Misra as the DGCA chief within this week and that he will join his new office by July-end.

Misra, at present, is India's representative in the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). It is proposed that joint secretary Prasant Sukul will replace him in ICAO.

Sources said that for Misra to become the DGCA chief a special waiver in qualification would have to be provided by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). Misra's file is still pending with the department of personnel.

"The UPSC in the past has provided waivers in qualification for several civil aviation officials. It is not a new phenomenon." said a ministry source.

On Tuesday, the civil aviation ministry tasked Sukul with an additional role as the director general of civil aviation. The post was held by E.K. Bharat Bhushan since 2011 and whose tenure had ended.

Bhushan had only a week ago received the nod for an extension of six months by the ACC, but was shifted out of the DGCA. Bhushan is credited with taking a hard stand against corruption.

He had acted against some DGCA employees for getting their kin recruited in the aviation industry, as well as, touts who helped student crack the pilots licence exam illegally.

His exit from the DGCA raised many an eye brow, but ministry sources claimed that due to a procedural lapse a confusion over the new chief of the DGCA was created.

Allegations were being made that Bhushan was removed at a critical juncture, as he was going to revoke the schedule airline status of the troubled Kingfisher Airlines.

However, the ministry maintained that there was no lobbying or interference by any private player in the appointment decision.

"How can there be a lobby when Misra's name was proposed since May this year. The decisions are not influenced by private sector. He (Bhushan) has acted against the ill practices in the sector and the ministry has supported him," the source said.

IANS