Two cousins will run the show in Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Kerala.
Nalini Netto, who was appointed as Kerala’s Chief Secretary, would join her cousin Girija Vaidyanathan, who has been Tamil Nadu’s Chief Secretary for more than three months now.
(Girija Vaidyanathan, Tamil Nadu’s Chief Secretary)
Nalini’s mother and Girija’s father, former RBI Governor K. Venkitaramanam, are siblings. Girija, the senior most IAS officer in Tamil Nadu, was appointed as Chief Secretary in December after her predecessor Rama Mohana Rao was suspended after income tax raids at his home and chamber in the secretariat.
The two officers belong to the 1981 batch of IAS. Netto will assume charge on April 1 when S M Vijayanand will step down on March 31.
Known for her quiet efficiency, Girija and the state’s Agriculture Secretary Gagandeep Singh Bedi were responsible for drafting the Jallikattu law in double quick time to have it passed as law to defuse the pro-Jallikattu agitation in the state in January.
As someone who speaks her mind Girija’s value was realized by O. panneerselvam’s successor Edappadi K. Palaniswami, who too chose to retain her as the Chief Secretary. “It is just a happy coincidence,” was how Girija reacted when a relative informed her about her cousin’s elevation.
Nalini Netto, who had been the Thiruvananthapuram collector, has also held positions such as the state tourism director, secretary in tax, irrigation and transport departments, cooperation registrar.
The relationship between the top officers could come handy in taming the fraught relationship between the two states over the safety of a dam.
Fearing for its safety, Kerala is adamant on replacing the century-old Mullaperiyar Dam in Idduki, but Tamil Nadu, the lower riparian state running the reservoir, is dead against it. Around 30 lakh people live downstream from the dam.