With Naveen Patnaik’s 5Ts mantra, Odisha officials turn pro-people
Farmers in Bharasa village of Odisha’s Ganjam district witnessed something they had not seen before.
Their district collector Vijay Amrita Kulange got out of his official vehicle in Bharasa village of Khallikote block, rolled up his trousers and waded into the muddy field as they were busy transplanting paddy saplings.
At first the farmers did not recognise the teacher turned bureaucrat but later spoke to him about their problems. Kulange taught them System of Rice Intensification (SRI) system of paddy plantation while urging them to enrol in the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.
Bharasa villagers said they were happy that a collector joined them on their fields. “His humble gesture will always remain in our hearts,” said a farmer.
As photos of Kulange wading into the field later went viral, chief minister Naveen Patnaik praised him on Twitter asking others to emulate him.
After getting elected for the fifth consecutive term in May this year, Patnaik has been urging his officials to be accountable to people while stressing on the implementation of 5Ts - technology, transparency, teamwork, time and transformation - to bring about a radical change in state’s governance system.
Though the uptake has been slow, people like Kulange seem to be first off the block.
“If we don’t go to the field and meet people how would we realise the problems of our people? We would learn a lot more and be more humble if we start going to field,” said Kulange.
“I have asked my BDOs and tehsildars to spend at least 50% of their time in the field,” he added.
Like him, there are officials who have been going beyond their rarefied zones to meet people.
Last week, Kendrapara’s district collector Samarth Verma, a mechanical engineer from IIT Kanpur, taught mathematics to Class 10 students in a government high school in Patkura area while monitoring the implementation of government schemes.
Verma had done it last year too when he was the district collector of Sambalpur, where he taught students and started a volunteer movement of teaching school students.
Puri’s district collector Balwant Singh was spotted last week picking up plastic and other waste materials that litter the beaches of the temple town. Wearing gloves, Singh led a team of volunteers to clean up the Puri beach as part of “Mo beach” campaign that he started about a month ago.
In another instance, woman block development officer of Kosagumuda in backward Nabarangpur district Shantiprava Pradhan took a risky trip to marooned villages for distribution of relief materials.
Crossing an overflowing river on a boat and later wading through knee-deep water, she visited three gram panchayats that were completely cut off following heavy rains in the district. Pradhan later said it was a call of duty.
In Kandhamal district, Phulbani’s block development officer (BDO) Subrat Kumar Jena encouraged people to erect a mobile tower using heaps of old and discarded tube-well pipes gathering dust in the panchayat office.
Residents of Badaki village wanted internet connectivity but Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) did not have a mobile tower and did not want to erect one in the remote village. Guided by the BDO, the villagers erected a mobile tower and under the supervision of BSNL engineers, a 30-ft tower was made with scrap and now the village is all set for internet connectivity.
Former officials and people have praised the new outreach programme of the officials.
“In other states like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, officers think nothing of wading into fields. It’s good that things are changing in Odisha. Unless officials meet people on field, they would become arrogant,” said former IAS officer Prafulla Mishra.