Having hogged the headlines for being top ranked in terms of paying a proper heed to public grievances, Mahendra Bahadur Singh, District Magistrate, Banda, Uttar Pradesh, in conversation with Arpit Gupta of Elets News Network (ENN) shares how Banda has maintained the numero uno position in addressing citizens’ problems, as local officials have been appointed in each area to tackle up all the public related issues on a priority.
“I started conducting open Gram Sabhas where we ensured that citizens names were added in the ration cards. At the same time, fake names were discarded from the ration cards.”
What kind of developmental initiatives you have undertaken in Banda?
What challenges are you facing while implementing them? When I came to Banda as District Magistrate, I realised that the state of residential areas, school, hospitals and other public places was not in a good condition. To improve it, I conducted meetings with citizens and officials. We created awareness about cleanliness and education and took feedback not only from the public but the government officials as well, which helped us in improving the services. In addition, we also promoted information through social media by creating various WhatsApp groups. With this initiative, we were able to exchange knowledge, upcoming initiatives, and collect feedback from the public – all at the same time.
We need to engage citizens to achieve the desired goals of development. I started doing open Gram Sabhas where we ensured that citizens names were added in the ration cards. At the same time, fake names were discarded from the ration cards. Till now, more than 10 per cent names have been added and 16 per cent names have been deleted under this campaign.
We also added and deleted names under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana through these open Gram Sabhas. People gained confidence in the administration through these sabhas as we were directly in touch with them. People in Banda are still not aware about the labour welfare schemes of the Government of India. For example, in Bundelkhand region, the Government is giving Rs 55,000 for marriage. If the child is going to a primary school, there is a provision of scholarships worth Rs 100-Rs 12,000 monthly. There is a provision for aid for expecting mothers and their children thereafter. In case of accident, Rs 5 lakh is granted to the grieving family under the Government scheme.
Through open meetings, we have made people aware of such initiatives.
Banda is one of the leading districts in spending money under the National Health Mission. The Government is providing Rs 15,000 per year to health sub centres for repair works. Through untied fund, we have taken a major drive for anti larval. We have ensured that sanitation workers are present in every village too. We have taken fogging progarmmes in the cities.
People in villages have started focussing on cleanliness, education for all etc. In almost all the villages, people started building toilets in support of cleanliness drive. It has been directed to all concerned officials to take up issues of residents on a priority basis and provide them with proper solution.
How adoption of social media has helped you to reach the last mile?
Through active social media presence, we were able to improvise our initiatives and public facilities. With the help of social media,we connected with a large number of people and fostered new initiatives which helped us increase our exposure to the common man and also broaden our reach to them.
It has revolutionised the way we communicate now and is increasing our public engagement as well. We are in direct conversation with the public due to social media. There were two priorities set by our Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. The first one was cleanliness and other one was redressal of public grievances.
Banda has maintained the numero uno position in solving citizens’ problems.
We have appointed local officials in each area to take up all the issues related to public and address them immediately. With this, we are able to reach even the grassroot level issues.
We have also taken initiatives to stop Anna Pratha – a tradition of leaving the cattle abandoned.
Some of the initiatives are to organise workshops in the villages and make people aware so that they themselves stop this system, to form groups in each village so that owners of roaming cattle can be cautioned in time, to establish cattle houses in each village, to lodge roaming cattle in cattle houses and inform the same to the cattle owners, and creation of more Gaushalas so that cattle can be kept safe.
What initiatives have been taken up to promote education in Banda?
We are giving more attention to the expansion of education by enhancing the resources. We have instructed teachers and authorities to follow proper attendance rules and teaching methods. These initiatives have led to more number of enrolments and attendance in primary schools. This has reduced absenteeism, while increasing learning achievement for students and enhanced teaching experience for students. Additionally, we have appointed officials for schools who do random checking in schools whether there are proper arrangements for students or not, distribution of rations, learning modules, etc. I personally take reviews of all these programmes on a weekly basis.
We also award teachers, officials and all others who perform up to the mark and punish the culprits too.
What steps have been taken by you to integrate technology and provide services in a better way to citizens?
E-governance services are being incorporated to provide better services to the people. Now, with the help of technology, people can avail any documentation online. By incorporating technology, public can easily get information about all the ongoing initiatives of government. We have centralised our services and will continue to do so in the future as well.