By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 28 Sep: Former Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand, Surjit Kishore Das (popularly known as SK Das) has passed away. Das passed away in a Delhi Hospital and was ailing from Cancer. Family sources claim that his cancer was detected only some weeks ago and since then he was under treatment. The mortal remains are to be cremated in Haridwar.
A native of Odisha, Das is survived by his wife and children. His wife Vibha Puri Das was also a senior IAS officer of the Uttarakhand Cadre and retired as Secretary, Personnel, Government of India. Earlier, she had also served as Additional Chief Secretary with the Uttarakhand Government. Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami has condoled the passing away of Das and has shared his condolence message on ‘X’ (formerly Twitter).
Das was one of those officers who have played a significant role in giving shape to the administration in the formative years of Uttarakhand as a young state. He was the fifth Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand and, after his retirement, was also appointed as Chairman of Uttarakhand State Public Service Commission (UKPSC) for a period of almost two and a half years, from 2008 to 2011.
In undivided Uttar Pradesh, he also served as the District Magistrate in Dehradun and also in Almora district from 25 March 1980 till 30 November, 1982. He also served as Commissioner of Garhwal region in undivided Uttar Pradesh and had a special love and fondness for the state. He chose to settle in Dehradun post his retirement and was socially active even afterwards and regularly participated in literary events and literature festivals.
SK Das was known for his continuous efforts to save the culture of Uttarakhand. At a public function organised in Almora in 2019, he appealed to the people of the state to work to save the culture and traditions of Uttarakhand. A left leaning liberal, SK Das had also given his support to the Aam Aadmi Party candidate Anoop Nautiyal from Tehri seat of Uttarakhand in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. He was an avid reader of Garhwal Post and regularly shared his opinions on the reports and articles printed in daily through WhatsApp. Das also wrote for Garhwal Post. A post graduate in English Literature, he was a committed reader and booklover. As the Chief Secretary serving under the then Chief Minister of Uttarakhand in 2006, he also played a crucial role in setting up the Doon Library & Research Centre in Dehradun, which was also inaugurated by CM ND Tiwari. Das was currently the patron of the Library and regularly attended the events held there.
SK Das was deeply involved in intellectual activities and also maintained constant association with people of Uttarakhand through his social work. The special thing is that after the formation of the state, SK Das was among the select officers who played a significant role as policy makers during the formative years. During his tenure as Principal Secretary, Home, he played a role in the cadre expansion and infrastructure development of the State Police Department.
Also, he was responsible for Doon Hospital modernisation during his tenure as Principal Secretary, Health.
While sharing the information about the demise of former Chief Secretary SK Das on ‘X’, CM Pushkar Singh Dhami wrote that he had received the very sad news. He added that he prayed to God to grant the departed soul a place at his feet. Dhami also wished the bereaved family members to the strength to bear the immense personal loss.