Dimapur, April 18: Former Nagaland chief secretary known as the architect of village development boards in the state, Padma Shri AM Gokhale passed away on Sunday morning in Pune, Maharashtra due to Covid-19. He was 75 and is survived by his wife and two children.
A 1968 batch IAS officer of Nagaland cadre, Gokhale served in various capacities in Nagaland till his superannuation as chief secretary in January 2006. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1990 for his work on village development boards and role in forming the Jawahar Rozgar Yojana.
Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio and deputy chief minister Y Patton condoled his death.
Expressing deep grief at his death, Rio, in a condolence message, said his death to Covid-19 is a great loss to the people of Nagaland.
Rio said Gokhale always did what was in the best of interests for the people of the state. He will always remain in the hearts of people of Nagaland, he added.
He described Gokhale as an exceptional officer, an optimist, a true leader, and a thinker par excellence, who during his more than three decades of service in the Indian Administrative Service brought about revolutionary changes.
In Nagaland, he developed the concept of the village development board which decentralised development to the village level, much before the panchayati raj institutions were brought in the rest of the country, he said.
Rio said building on the strengths and traditions of the people of Nagaland and merging it with his passion for conserving environment, Gokhale established Nagaland Environment Protection and Economic Development through People’s Act (NEPED), building a motivated and dedicated team from scratch, which for the first time also brought in financing from external agencies to Nagaland.
“Its success also motivated the state government to set up a number of other game-changing missions such as the Bamboo Mission, Honey Mission, etc.” Rio said.
Deputy chief minister and BJP leader Patton said Gokhale was the brain behind introducing Alder tree plantations drive which helped in Jhum cultivation cycles and its benefits in eco-forestry in Nagaland.
Patton said Gokhale’s vision for an integrated rural development became a reality with the establishment of village development boards, starting with Ketsapo village in Phek district as a model village.
In his demise the nation has lost an efficient bureaucrat, Patton added.