Report by Badal Tah; Rayagada: There are still 840 inaccessible villages in entire Rayagada district. Drinking water scarcity is yet another burning problem of the district along with other development deficits like health and education. But this has not deterred Sri Amrit Ruturaj, Project Director, DRDA, Rayagada, one of the youngest civil servants of Odisha to take administrative cudgel under bureaucratic parameters prescribed by the Government. To be visible in person in the most inaccessible areas, where adibasis of PVTGs(Primarily Vulnerable Tribal Groups) like Lanjia Sauras of Gunupur and Dangaria Kandhas of Muniguda, K. Singhpur & Bissam Cuttack reside, he uses a motor bike scooty to mingle with the tribals, dalits and other weaker sections of the society, listens to them patiently and solves most of the problems at the spot. While govt officers, in the plea of Naxalites, avoid visiting villages, Amrit has proved that will power can override any kind of bottleneck.
Being a Ravenshavian and JNUite, it helped Amrit to get into this coveted service without any formal coaching. After a short stint as Assistant Secretary in Ministry of Culture in GOI, he joined as Sub-Collector in Gunupur Sub-division of Rayagada district. He left his foot print of several achievements during his regime as sub-divisional magistrate. According to him, “The magistrate has to apply his mind with respect to law and human rights. Convergence of learning and action by law keepers, prosecutors is a befitting step in this regard.” Very successfully he was instrumental in conducting Chaiti-Idital, a cultural extravaganza in the sub-divisional level. This has established his love for Odia and tribal culture as a true Odia.
Though there is a government order that the top bureaucrats must visit, review and have overnight stay in the field, it is hardly adhered to; but Amrit is an exception. He makes frequent visits to most interior villages in Chandrapur& Kashipur, where issues are galore. He has made night stay mandatory for himself in these areas, which are infested with ultra left activism. It is not in BDO office or a PWD bungalow where he stayed; but in a residential school hostel(Ashram School). “Each villager is unique and bears a special character. A responsible officer needs to walk with the characters in the village to know, quickly assess its socio-economic dynamics and act upon it. By having a night stay in the field, one still comes closer to the community”, says Amrit. The methodology adopted by Amrit, in fact, is actually termed as “Transect Walk”, which is a part of Rapid Rural Appraisal or Participatory Rural Appraisal used recently by development planners. He does not boast the technique’s jargons. Neither he thrusts the methodology upon his colleagues working under him. He conspicuously applies it for himself and then the officers follow him. He never uses his official vehicle for his personal use thus being a model of personal-professional divide.
In his recent visits to the hinterland areas of the district, he has given top priority to drinking water, communication, irrigation, employment under MGNREGA containing migration, etc. As the Director of DRDA, he emphasises upon the development of the rural part of Rayagada mostly dominated by tribals and dalits. Being born at Umerkote of Nabarangapur district and lived in most interior districts of Odisha like Koraput, Malkangiri and Gajapati, the development of KBK districts has always been a driving force even before getting into IAS. Thus he has taken sides: the sides of poor and needy, who require his service most.
He is also the Project Director of DUDA(District Urban Development Agency), Rayagada. Rayagada has two municipalities in Rayagada & Gunupur and one NAC at Gudari. He alongwith the pollution control board, municipal authorities, RTO, Corporate, small scale industries is taking many befitting steps like rectification of the drainage system, segregating wastes for waste disposal and management, taking pollution control measures involving the local communities.
“Amrit does all this silently without any hue & cry. He is not also very media saavy. By going to poor people, listening to them and staying amidst them pacifies their agonies and anger upto a greater extent. A coordinated action thereafter suffices the cause. The expectation of the people for service delivery from him is in a rising trend and this proves his pro-people image in the district”, said Sri Rabindra Patakhandal, Convenor of District RTI Campaign.