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Reaching out to the commoners

AFTER A talk in the air-conditioned auditorium of the Industrial Toxicology Research Centre (ITRC) about Lucknow?s pollution status in the morning, Principal Secretary (Food and Civil Supplies) Sudhir Kumar sat under a mango tree in the orchard of Abdullah Nursery in Malihabad on Monday, facing a queue of farmers and villagers.

india Updated: Jun 06, 2006 01:21 IST

AFTER A talk in the air-conditioned auditorium of the Industrial Toxicology Research Centre (ITRC) about Lucknow’s pollution status in the morning, Principal Secretary (Food and Civil Supplies) Sudhir Kumar sat under a mango tree in the orchard of Abdullah Nursery in Malihabad on Monday, facing a queue of farmers and villagers.

The officer was not only sensitive to the people’s problems but also witty in his replies. A villager said: “The ration dealer takes 50 paise extra on kerosene.”

Sudhir Kumar said: “Leave aside the 50 paise extra he charges. First tell me, does he supply the kerosene at all or does he sell it in the market?” At this comment of the officer, some people who appeared to be the ration dealer’s sympathisers said, “What do they get as profit, sir?” The officer shot back: “Oh, that’s why the government is considering that ration shops should also be allowed to function as general merchants’shops .”

When the officer reached a primary health centre, he ‘smelled’ preparation in advance. Probably the PHC staff anticipated the visit, so they had used phenyl liberally in cleaning the premises. There was only one patient and about three dozen officers, hospital staff and doctors. The lone patient panicked with so much attention. As there was no point in viewing things which had been perfected beforehand, Sudhir Kumar called for registers of medicine stocks.

When he questioned about the anti-snake venom and anti-rabies vaccines, the pharmacist said: “No one turns up with any dog or snake bites.” Sudir Kumar snapped: “Then why have the medicines not been returned? Not only were the previous stocks not returned, you people have also taken fresh stocks.”

Talking to mediapersons, the official said that these visits on the directive of the State government had indeed galvanised officers in the districts. More important was the fact that such visits had brought to notice some very significant problems which otherwise went unnoticed.