Uma Shankar Singh is a young officer who joined the Indian Administrative Service in 2009. He took the charge of Giridih district in Jharkhand as Deputy Commissioner about seven months ago. Before this he had a stint as DC in Bokaro and also as Sub-Divisional Officer in Deoghar and Kodarmas. He speaks to Rakesh Sinha about the tasks before him. Excerpts from the exclusive talk:
Giridih is lagging behind many districts in terms of development. How will you speed up development work?
Development work normally picks up pace with decentralisation of power. It is imperative that work gets decentralised here too. It is for all the officials to shoulder responsibility effectively to develop the district. The first and foremost thing is that the officials will have to change their work culture. There must be a fortnightly work review by heads of the respective departments to keep things smooth. A District Collector alone cannot review the work of every department. Moreover, emphasis has to be given on e- governance in order to expedite functioning of departments. We have come out with the online registration of complaints and every complaint has to be answered within 20 days. In case of delay, action, including deductions from salary is stipulated against officials found to be lax.
How will you address financial irregularities in the schemes and how would you enhance the efficacy of the schemes?
Presence of Block Development Officers and county level Circle Officers in their respective department is of paramount importance. Absence of officials from their departments leads to non-redressal of public grievances. This also affects the development work. Moreover, we have also ensured that senior offers review the work of various departments from time to time and check whether officials of their respective departments are present or not. I will personally take stock of the situation from time to time. And, moreover, officials have been warned about the repercussions in cases of financial irregularities; district headquarters will send its team to probe any malpractice that is brought to the notice of authorities.
How will you improve the dysfunctional health system in the district?
Results can also be produced with limited resources if there is will and strong determination. We have to check arbitrary distribution of medicines and ensure that doctors don’t take to private practice at times when they are expected to be in Government hospitals. Non-dispensation of available medicines will be dealt with strictly. Action will also be taken against doctors for sloth and dereliction of duty.
How will you tackle the disputed land matters that have been on rise in the district?
Plans are afoot to bring e-governance for redressal of such grievances. About 70 percent of the crime is related to land. And, to address the issue, we are planning digitisation of land records. This would bring transparency and reduce disputes to a great extent. We would also introduce the facility of online mutation under the digitization programme.
How will you enhance the quality of education in the district?
We have ensured that teachers are fully devoted to teaching rather than looking after school building construction or managing mid-day meal scheme. Teachers are only meant for teaching and works related to other departments must be done by their own staff. Cognizance would be taken if this norm is violated anywhere by anybody in the district.
How will you improve poor work culture of officers and employees?
Things won’t improve by merely punishing the guilty employees; we are also planning to reward the employees who fare well in their respective departments. Plans are afoot to give away prizes and recognition to ‘employee of the year’ and ‘employee of the month’. It will encourage healthy competition among employees and they would try to do their best in their respective areas.
How do you see the challenge of unnecessary political pressure in your work?
There must not be any pressure in my opinion. The rule books strictly prohibit such sort of unwanted political pressures. Moreover, it is considered to be an act of corruption in strict legal sense. If any kind of political pressure gets exposed in transfers and other works then concerned officials will also be brought to book.
•Under the Disha Programme, 15 schools of Giridih have been equipped with internet facilities. This has opened the way for accessing knowledge and tips from expert teachers from across the globe for the better guidance of students.
•Thirty villages affected by Naxalites are going to be mainstreamed through various schemes like ‘Parasnath Work Scheme’. Moreover, other infrastructural development projects are being undertaken like construction of a 20-kilometre-long road from Palganj to Bensinghat and another 11 km to connect Khukhra Modh with Ganeshpur .