Mohan Verghese Chunkath, now Additional Chief Secretary heading the State Department of Environment and Forests, has been promoted Chief Secretary. The 58-year-old Mr. Chunkath succeeds Sheela Balakrishnan, who has been appointed Adviser to the State government. Ms. Balakrishnan, who is retiring on March 31, will hold the post for one year or till the need for it ceases. She has been the Chief Secretary since December 31, 2012 and her predecessor, Debendranath Sarangi, was Advisor to the government for two months after retirement.
Born in Thrissur, Mr. Chunkath, who holds a post-graduate degree in Zoology, has been heading the Department of Environment and Forests since December 2012. He belongs to the 1978 batch of IAS officers and his wife, Sheela Rani, is his batch mate too. In his 36-year-long innings, he held various positions including the Collector of Dharmapuri district and Secretary in charge of Higher Education Department. As the Chairman-cum-Managing Director of the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency about six years ago, he identified solar energy as an area to be promoted vigorously.
Known for keeping a low profile, Mr. Chunkath is a well-known scrabble player and he has won many tournaments. Two years ago, his publication - Nature Rambles (Mover Books) – was launched and veteran agriculture scientist M. S. Swaminathan hailed him for showcasing urban biodiversity heritage through just 200 examples of the variety of nature in Chennai.