A 1986 batch officer of the Indian Forest Service, Gujarat cadre, Dr Arun Kumar Verma is currently serving as joint secretary in the Ministry of Power. He has a tight grip on the sector and strong views on how to take it forward.
As joint secretary, a position he has held since 2014, he has been closely involved in the formulation and implementation of key government schemes – the DDUGJY, Saubhagya, the IPDS, the Power for All programme and UDAY. Both the IPDS and DDUGJY have progressed well, he notes, but Saubhagya remains his most satisfying assignment, as it gave him the opportunity to work for his countrymen who had not seen electricity before.
Verma has had a long and interesting professional journey, during which he has served as physics teacher, technocrat and bureaucrat. His professional journey began in Gujarat’s forest divisions of Vyara, Kutch, Bariya and Rajpipla. In 2002, Verma was promoted as conservator of forests, Ahmedabad, and later made commissioner of tribal development.
Verma’s power sector innings began in 2008, when he was appointed managing director of state discom Uttar Gujarat Vij Company Limited. In 2011, he was appointed member secretary of the Gujarat Ecology Commission and project director of the World Bank-aided integrated coastal zone management project in Gujarat. He has written over two dozen papers, drawing on his expertise in forest management and tribal welfare. He has also been the architect of several government schemes. He redesigned the Japan Bank for International Cooperation-funded integrated forestry development project of Gujarat and contributed to the formulation of Gujarat’s forest development project.
Verma has a master’s degree in physics and forestry. He has also done a postgraduate programme in public policy and management from IIM Bangalore, and has a Ph.D. in tribal development policy.
Verma is a 24×7 professional and rarely powers off. And so, it is not surprising that when he retires later this year, he plans to work some more. He has been supporting welfare development work in his village Bhandari in Sitamarhi, helping connect people with government programmes. And yes, he also plans to write prolifically, something that he has been wanting to pursue but not had the time for. Not fiction, but power industry prose. Verma and his wife, Snigdhaa, have a son who is an IIM Ahmedabad graduate and is working in London.