Ahead of Maha Kumbh, we have to focus more on technology. With respect to that, we have developed certain tools for enhancement of development activities in Haridwar, says Swati Bhadauria, Chief Development Officer, Haridwar, in an exclusive interview with Souvik Goswami of Elets News Network (ENN).
What is your mandate as the Chief Development Officer of Haridwar?
I am responsible for the development of the entire Haridwar district. It has got multi-dimensional developmental aspect. It includes social as well as infrastructural development. The education, health, rural development, agriculture, horticulture, etc, are the focus areas. The social developmental work is a major thrust area for our work.
How do you perceive the significance of technology for good governance?
Technology is a game-changer for governance. Haridwar comes under the Aspirational District programme. According to NITI Aayog, Haridwar is amongst the 115 most backward districts and technology can be leveraged in a big way to bring developmental transformation here. We have to focus more on technology. In this light, we have developed certain tools for enhancement of development activities. EAnganwadi Register has been developed which helps us to see online nutrition, vaccination status of anganwadi pregnant women and their children and we can intervene immediately whenever there is a need. Similarly, a dropout suveillance system-Pragati has been started to make Haridwar a zero-dropout district.
What is this ‘Bhagidari’ portal all about?
Haridwar is a major industrial district of Uttarakhand. More than 1,400 industries are here. It was not utilised as per its potential. The CSR spending is clear mandate for companies. But sometimes, it happens that CSR funding does not happen in required areas. We have tried to change that through ‘Bhagidari’ portal. It has a ‘government’ as well as a ‘company’ module. We list out areas requiring funds in the government module and in company module, the companies can see and just adopt certain listed out works by clicking a button. This has helped us to fasten lot of developmental works in Haridwar in last six months.
For example, there were 692 schools without any furniture. We listed out that in the portal and a lot of schools were adopted by companies and furniture was thus provided to the schools.
What are the major challenges of a city like Haridwar?
A huge amount of mobile population is an area needing attention as it is both an important religious tourist location as well as an industrial town. Sanitation is a problem area for us because not many people have permanent place to live here since most of them are part of mobile population. Traffic management too poses problems for us. Infrastructure support is needed to address these problems. On the other hand, we are also very low on health indicators. Lack of awareness is one of the reasons for that. We have empanelled NGOs to create awareness. We have also initiated ‘Vridhi’ project through which we are trying to ensure at least four antenatal checkups are done with the help of volunteers. With every challenge comes an opportunity.
Do you think Maha Kumbh 2021 will help Haridwar to witness a real transformation?
For Maha Kumbh 2021, we are focusing on building permanent infrastructure. The new bridges, roads, toilets, etc, are being planned. It will help in the infrastructural upliftment of the city. It will also create lots of opportunities for employment generation. For example, this time we are planning for plasticfree (polythene bags-free) Maha Kumbh. Herein we are trying to provide alternative to people because merely banning plastic will not give us the desired results. We are getting cloth bags prepared by Self Help Groups to give alternative to people for polybags and to ensure income generation for women.