A 2018 batch IAS officer currently serving as Deputy Commissioner (DC) Ganderbal, Shyambir Singh, shares his administrative journey and the remarkable projects being undertaken in the district in an interview with Greater Kashmir’s Senior Editor, Nazir Ganaie Excerpts
Greater Kashmir: You are new to Kashmir. Tell us about your administrative journey so far.
DC Ganderbal: I belong to the Bhind district of Madhya Pradesh which falls in the famous Chambal region. I am a 2018 batch IAS officer of the Madhya Pradesh cadre, where I have served for almost three years. I did my district training in Seoni, MP which takes pride in having the famed Pench National Park which inspired the ‘Jungle Book’. Then I served in the primarily tribal area of the Ali Rajpur district of MP. In both these areas, I worked in the capacity of SDM along with holding additional charges of Assistant Commissioner Tribal, and Project Office Urban Development. Both areas were very different socially, culturally, economically, and linguistically. I thoroughly enjoy working in multidimensional cultures which is the beauty that the all-India service provides. This reflects in my decision to serve in Jammu and Kashmir on deputation. As Additional Deputy Commissioner, (ADC) Jammu, the opportunity to work under the guidance of various seniors including Anshul Garg, and a wonderful team to play a major role in law and order situations, retrieval of state land, and disposal of many land cases was gratifying. It was a short stint of two-and-a-half months.
Later, I got a lifetime opportunity to be part of Amarnath Yatra which was historic in all aspects, be it management, cleanliness, or service delivery being monitored with best practices like 360 Degrees PTZ cameras, and Radio-frequency identification (RFID). As one of the DCs in Kashmir, I got an opportunity to be part of administrative reform in J&K. The reforms will make J&K the best-administered part of the country with a transparent, effective, and responsive government.
Greater Kashmir: How would you describe your journey to district Ganderbal so far?
DC Ganderbal: Ganderbal is one of the most culturally vibrant districts of Kashmir with an active civil society. With the successful conduct of Kheer Bhawani Mela and Amarnath Yatra, people in these areas have shown that Kashmiriyat persists. The people of Kashmir are hospitable and they have shown the world how brotherhood and communal harmony are respected. Work in the district is done uniquely. Kashmiriyat is seen everywhere. People not only welcome religious tourists with open hearts but also work day and night to provide them with the best facilities.
Lakhs of people witnessing the revival of Urs in Ganderbal after 33 years was also a reflection of people's wishes and aspirations which was facilitated well by the J&K administration. People have already started preparation for the next year's Urs. Administratively J&K government and district administration are adopting best practices and modifying the entire system that requires training of all government machinery which is a tough task but all administrative secretaries and Divisional Commissioner’s office are working tirelessly to achieve this by maintaining financial prudence through BEAMS, e-tendering, the online service delivery of 225 services, online grievance redressal, switching to e-Office and following citizen charter and Right to Information (RTI) norms in letter and spirit.
Greater Kashmir: What are the milestones that you would like to talk about regarding the development and prosperity of Ganderbal?
DC Ganderbal: For the prosperity and development of Ganderbal, we are trying to implement all the government schemes following Gandhiji’s talisman. All our line departments are working so that the benefits of government-run schemes reach the last deserving person. We are setting the ideal targets and making necessary interventions so that we accomplish the targets and our success rate approaches the set ideal target.
Moreover, the district administration is holding bi-monthly District Level Coordination Committee meetings to monitor the progress on set deliverables for the district. In DLCC, all line departments share the progress on assigned deliverables. Ganderbal has been saturated in many schemes such as Ayushman Bharat card generation, mostly all Social Welfare schemes, and the e-Shram card which reflects the dedication of our team. Also, Ganderbal provided the highest financial assistance to people under self-employment to date.
Greater Kashmir: Ganderbal is a culturally rich area. What steps are you taking to bolster this sector?
DC Ganderbal: Ganderbal has multicultural societies and is a perfect example of Kashmiriyat where all live in a harmonious relationship. Reviving the Urs in Ganderbal after 33 years was a step to revive cultural traditions. It saw an overwhelming response both for paying obeisance at the shrine and also in Sufi cultural performances. Adventure Park and street food delicacies were also attraction points. The successful culmination of Amarnath Yatra presented very good stories of brotherhood and faith in which people of Ganderbal worked tirelessly on the high altitudes and difficult tracks to provide the most comforting and spiritual experience in those majestic mountains of the cave shrine. Kashmiri cultural performances such as Rouf, Ladhi Shah, and musical performances, handicrafts, and handlooms are now showcased prominently on all important days and to all dignitaries visiting Ganderbal. They have added new experiences for tourists visiting Kashmir. More steps have been taken in this regard which will bear fruit shortly.
Greater Kashmir: There are many languishing projects. How are they being monitored and taken up?
DC Ganderbal: The progress is being monitored during the review meetings besides site inspections and by obtaining monthly progress reports from the executing agencies. All efforts are being taken to complete these projects on a priority basis. Recently, Bamsipora Bridge was inaugurated by the Chief Secretary, and soon work on other projects would also finish.
Greater Kashmir: Talking about the languishing projects. How many projects are there in your district? What is their status?
DC Ganderbal: Nearly 75 projects were taken under a languishing programme across the district. Of these projects, 26 are completed and the work on the remaining projects is still in progress.
Greater Kashmir: People are complaining about dilapidated roads. How are you addressing it?
DC Ganderbal: When I assumed office as DC Ganderbal, there was a lot of hue and cry regarding the dilapidated condition of roads in the district. The task was planned and monitored regularly. All roads which were under DLP were inspected and issues found were flagged to the concerned contractor, which proved to be very successful. With this method, 32 roads were repaired and maintained. This is the first time when Ganderbal saw macdamisation of the most length of inner links by the Roads and Buildings Department with the highest quality. Roads that are still pending have been identified for the next fiscal.
Greater Kashmir: What are the success stories that you would count in the Ganderbal district?
DC Ganderbal: Under NRLM, agriculture, horticulture, and self-employment we have many success stories. NRLM District Self Help Group (SHG) members earned revenue of over 5 lakh during the yatra and are successfully running the first government-owned canteen in Kashmir in the Sales Tax office in Srinagar.
In agriculture, success stories of integrated farming, mushroom growers, horticulturists, fisheries, and self-employment are amazing.
Greater Kashmir: Ganderbal has seen many young social entrepreneurs and social enterprises come up with unique ideas. How is the district administration helping them?
DC Ganderbal: District administration is actively supporting the potential entrepreneurs in the district through its self-employment schemes like SEI, Rise Together, PMEGP, and Credit Support to Artisans. Moreover, we have collaborated with an industrial representative through the District Skill Committee and are providing mentorship to support their business. The Employment Department also provides career counseling services and it is my humble request to all potential entrepreneurs and job seekers to register themselves on the J&K Employment portal and Youth portal. J&K Employment portal is now linked with the national career service and opportunities available all over the country may be accessed through that portal. This year's skill plan is made for the district keeping in view the growing demand for a new workforce for future-ready Ganderbal.
Greater Kashmir: What are the new major potential tourist destinations that you are exploring in your district?
DC Ganderbal: Recently nine tourist villages have been identified. These include Mamaar, Naranag, Wangath, Sarbal, Manasbal, and Neelgrath. Mansbal will surely attract more tourists soon.
Greater Kashmir: Drug menace is rampant everywhere. Ganderbal also is affected. How are you dealing with this situation?
DC Ganderbal: Effective measures as per the law are being taken. Village committees have been formed and I am happy to share that many villages have self-declared themselves as drug-free. We have also collected an anonymous list from the local public. The Police Department is at the forefront of the fight against drug addiction.