Gautam Budh Nagar popularly known as NOIDA is a planned city of UP. It was founded to woo industrialists, entrepreneurs and businesses. With a population of about 7 lakh and a home to large number of MNCs it has transformed into a bustling town from rural moorings. NOIDA is one of the best cities and credit for this also goes to its district administration. Madhurendra Sinha talks to the dynamic District Magistrate NP Singh from the Indian Administrative Service about the work and challenges that NOIDA poses before him. Excerpts:
What are the major problems that you face as the District Magistrate of Gautam Budh Nagar?
There are many problems but the major one is land acquisition and issues related to this. Government acquires land from farmers for development. No land is acquired by NHAI (National Highway Authority of India), Railways for major highways. Eastern Periphery No.2 which I feel is constructive engagement of rural youth. They get compensation from Government but because of the lack of knowledge, they buy homes, cars, jewellery, clothes and waste money in unproductive expenditure. After they exhaust their money we counsel them because we fear that they may become easy target of economic criminals, illegal liquor and mining gangs, car looters etc. This is a major challenge to rehabilitate them. We try to encourage them to invest money in productive domain and not wasteful expenditure. We have another problem in the form of landless labour. They don’t get compensation for the land sold by the owner farmers. They are forced to work on the construction sites. They are unskilled people and hence get lesser wages. We try to get them right wages in right places.
Noida being such an expensive city from the point of view of view of cost of land, so how do you manage to keep this city free from encroachments?
It is a continuous process. You have to keep watch on the encroachers on a regular basis. Also RWAs or Resident Welfare Associations and enlightened citizens constantly approach us about such incidents. People’s awareness is very high. This combined with vigilance of administration gives good results. So far we have been successful in warding off encroachments.
Gautam Budh Nagar is a mix of township and rural areas. In the city, people are rich but rural people are still near poverty line. How do you bridge the urban-rural divide?
Villagers here feel that they are the victims of development process instead of being partners. There is a reservation about them. There is an apparent urban-rural divide. To dispel this we do counseling of rural youth. We have started a Dada-Pota Abhiyan (Grandfather-Grandson Campaign) in which we encourage them to use their money received from compensation to invest in productive things. We tell them to invest in developmental work. We tell them that the next generation also has the right on this money because the land belonged to their ancestors. We encourage them to start industries or buy another piece of land in other places so that your money remains intact. We asked them to start auxiliary industries and as a result 100 villages have already started them.
GautamBudh Nagar has the potential for employment. Did you do anything for the local youth to get jobs?
When we approached villagers to ask their children to study in ITI or polytechnics they told us that many children who studied in them are still unemployed. I personally found that total 1758 students have passed out from those institutes but still jobless. Interestingly, industries also needed such candidates. We talked to 30-35 companies and through mediation between candidates and companies we achieved good result. It was an eye-opener when 972 candidates got jobs in a single day. We have also prepared a database of technically qualified candidates. We have called HR people from Expo Mart and asked them their requirements. They told us and now we are training our youth. This is creating a positive environment. I say to industrialists if you want good environment around you help us in this. If youth remains unemployed, he can become a criminal or may be radicalised. If you want harmony do this.
There are well established schools with all the facilities and on the one hand and pitiable Government schools on the other. Have you done anything for them?
We took the help of corporates to improve facilities in schools. In 225 schools the scene has changed. In some buildings were repaired, in some new toilets were constructed and some chairs and benches were provided. We persuaded corporates to help poor school children during winter. As a result 18000 sweaters and large number of shoes were distributed. This year we have a target of 200 schools. We encourage companies to send their CEOs to the schools and distribute such things among children. These children will become optimistic about life. We have persuaded builders to start make shift schools and provide midday meals to the children.
I believe in positivity and can vouch that without this there can be no harmony. Human resource development is equally important.