In a reshuffle of IAS officers, ex-state Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) commissioner, Mahesh Zagade, 55, was transferred out of office on Tuesday. The state has yet not decided on where he will be posted next, said sources. The transfer orders were issued by CM Prithviraj Chavan along with that of five others in Maharashtra.
While Zagade's three-year term would have come to a closure on August 29, sources said that IAS officers can be provided with an extension of tenure beyond three years, at the state's discretion.
Formerly, director of municipal administration in Maharashtra, Purushottam Bhapkar, will replace Zagade. Bhapkar was also the former municipal commissioner of Aurangabad until 2012.
Zagade has been instrumental in banning gutkha and pan masala in the state for the third year in a row. Also, he has taken strict action on errant chemists operating without pharmacists, or selling medicines without prescriptions. Since last month, under his supervision, FDA started a drive against doctors illegally stocking antibiotics in bulk. Collaborating with Interpol, Zagade played a major role in cracking down on internet pharmacy rackets since the start of the year. State FDA had seized and prohibited illegal trade of addictive prescription drugs worth crores, like anti-depressants and sex boosters – sildenafil citrate. The drugs were being illegally exported to Japan, Western Europe and other countries, without prescriptions. His work on the ban of tobacco-related products was recognized by World Health Organization, for which he was given a global award. Zagade confirmed, “I was due for transfer by the end of the month. However, I have yet not been intimated about my next posting.”
“Zagade has been the only officer in the past 60 years who has worked on patient welfare, care and safety as his foremost concern,” said YP Yajurvedi Rao, president, Society for Awareness of Civil Rights.