New Delhi, May 28 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi's close aide and bureaucrat-turned-politician Arvind Kumar Sharma on Friday said his focus now is to ramp up the health infrastructure in Purvanchal area, including Varanasi, to prepare the region for better handling of coronavirus in coming days.
The 1988 batch retired IAS officer of Gujarat cadre, after closely work with Modi for more than two decades, voluntarily retired as secretary of MSME and joined the BJP in January.
Soon after, he was made the party's MLC in Uttar Pradesh, his home state.
58-year-old Sharma has been spearheading the relief and Covid preventive work in Varanasi and its adjoining districts for more than a month following instructions from the PMO and shifted his base to the prime minister's constituency in the second week of April.
'On instructions of Prime Minister's Office and Uttar Pradesh chief minister, I shifted my base from Lucknow to Varanasi on April 13, and stayed there for nearly 40 days to look after the relief and other preventive works in wake of Covid, in the Prime Minister's constituency and other adjoining districts,' Sharma told PTI.
He feels that with the 'guidance and blessings' of Modi, he along with local government officials was able to effectively tackle the second wave of coronavirus in Varanasi and its adjoining districts.
'In less than a week after my arrival we substantially increased the bed capacity of hospitals across Varanasi, availability of oxygen cylinders, ventilators and established more testing facilities in the district,' Sharma said, adding that similar efforts were also made to enhance the health infrastructure of adjoining districts such as Mirzapur, Chandoli, Jaunpur and Azamgarh.
Sharma said his long administrative experience, his associations in both public and private sector came handy in raising the resources for entire Purvanchal during the pandemic which also catered to needs of patients from adjoining Bihar.
'Many times whether it was for ventilators, cylinders and oxygen concentrators, my contacts in private sector were forthcoming in helping me through CSR. Once a smooth flow of required resources started, I along with government officials started distributing all the essential COVID related medical items in entire eastern UP,' he said.
Sharma, who categorically declined to get into any political conversation, said as of now his 'focus is to ramp up the health infrastructure of all 17 districts of Purvanchal for coronavirus and other health emergencies in future.' Talking about the steps taken on developing health infrastructure front, he said four oxygen plants have been established in Varanasi, efforts are on further enhancing health infrastructure in other districts of Purvanchal.
Sharma, who hails from Mau district, said he feels close affinity to the eastern region of Uttar Pradesh and understands its demography.
Political circles in the state are abuzz with speculation that Sharma can be given a bigger responsibility in the state government in coming days.
Sharma was the only serving IAS officer from Gujarat who came along with Modi to Delhi in 2014 and posted as Joint Secretary in PMO.
During his stint in PMO, Sharma was assigned to look after infrastructure related work of the government and was also monitoring the developmental work of two states -Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. PTI JTR ZMN