The Tamil Nadu government on Friday appointed Dr J Radhakrishnan IAS, Principal Secretary of the Revenue Administration, Disaster Management and Mitigation Department as Special Nodal Officer for the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC). This, in light of the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Chennai over the past few days. The senior bureaucrat, who has been at the forefront of handling major disasters in the state, is now tasked with coordinating COVID-19 related issues in Chennai.
The appointment comes even as the city recorded the highest single-day spike at 176 cases on Friday.
An IAS officer of the 1992 cadre, Radhakrishnan has been credited with tackling the catastrophic onslaught of natural and man-made disasters in Tamil Nadu over the years. He was lauded for his effective handling of the 2004 Indian ocean tsunami that wreaked irreparable havoc in Nagapattinam and Cuddalore districts.
During the initial years of service, he was sub-collector of Madurai and Thoothukudi before holding charge of Chennai Corporation Commissioner in 2000.
Months before the tsunami struck, Radhakrishnan, as district collector of Thanjavur, was tasked with handling the tragic aftermath of the 2004 Kumbakonam school fire which killed 94 students.
In December 2004, he was overseeing relief efforts in the neighbouring district of Thanjavur when it emerged that the tsunami had hit Nagapatinam the worst with over 6,000 dead. Then Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa appointed Radhakrishnan district collector of the coastal district.
He was widely lauded for his relief and rehabilitation efforts in the district even as the bureaucrat emerged as the face of disaster management in the state. He went onto serve as Assistant Country Director, Disaster Management for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Known in political circles as a trusted officer of late Chief Minister J Jayalaithaa, in 2012, Radhakrishnan was appointed Health Secretaryâ€” a post he continued to hold even after the demise of the AIADMK supremo in December 2016.
After a stint of six years, the senior bureaucrat was transferred from the Health Department to the Transport Department and subsequently appointed to his present posting as Principal Secretary of Revenue Administration, Disaster Management and Mitigation.
â€śThe Government appoints Dr J Radhakrishnan, IAS, Principal Secretary / Commissioner, Revenue Administration, Disaster Management and Mitigation, Chennai as Special Nodal Officer for the Greater Chennai Corporation to co-ordinate the COVID-19 related issues with the Commissioner of GCC and other Teams constituted for the specific purpose of containing the spread of the disease further in Chennai District and to ensure effective implementation of various guidelines issued by the Government.â€ť read a Government Order issued by Chief Secretary K Shanmugam.