An IAS Officer’s 4 KM Trek To Reach The People
- Bhakti Kothari
- Published on 27 Nov 2020, 5:35 pm IST
- 5 minutes read
Naxal-infested and cut off from the district headquarters, this village in Odisha was gasping for breath. That was when the IAS officer Poma Tudu trekked to the area, listened patiently to the villagers, and went about solving their many problems.
- IAS officer Poma Tudu Trekked for 4 km to reach the tribal villages.
We usually start complaining about the municipality or administration of our city when we find potholes on our bright shiny roads. But there are places in India where even riding a bicycle is a life-threatening task. The residents living in Samatapadar village in the forest area of Nuapada district in Odisha have a tough time in reaching places, as they have to walk up a hostile terrain for at least four kilometers in order to reach an area where they can at least ride a bicycle. Looking at their problems, IAS officer Ms. Poma Tudu decided to trek through the terrain herself to reach the families settled on the top and listen to grievances, first hand.
THE DIFFICULT TREK
The village of Samatapadar was still not bestowed with basic amenities such as electricity, road connectivity, and social welfare methods. The nearest headquarters- of a place with connectivity- was 90 km away from the place. Initially, Ms. Tudu was not aware of the problems that the tribal families were facing due to the lack of roads and mode of communication. But once she realized what is going on, she decided to trek the hostile terrain herself to reach the people and lend an ear to their woes.
The 73 families from different tribal groups living in the village were forced to travel for about 90 kilometers to reach their district headquarters, in order to avail of the services offered by the government. The IAS officer of the 2012 batch from Odisha cadre was moved when she saw people of all ages, including the older men and women, trekking down the terrain with difficulty just to reach the headquarters. That’s when she decided of climbing all the way to them to listen to their grievances so they could avoid trekking down all by themselves. The area is heavily Naxal-infested, although this particular village has not reported any violent incidents till now. It is also quite well known for the unpredicted roaming and attacks by wild animals, but none of these factors scared Ms. Tudu.
THE JOURNEY UP HILL
Ms. Tudu began her journey from the District Headquarters in the morning, accompanied by the Project Director of the district, Mr. Brushabh Chandra Nayak, and traveled 90 kilometers to reach Ranimunda village under Khariar block. Once they reached the foothill of the place, they got out of their vehicle and started to scale up the hill on foot, in order to reach the Samatapadar village, which is literally cut off from the entire district. All this while, the Collector and Project Director were armed with a ‘lathi’!
MS. TUDU – AN UNEXPECTED GUEST
After scaling the 4-kilometer hostile trek in about two and a half hours, Ms. Tudu finally reached the village. Once there, she started interacting with the villagers. They were, however, unknown of her identity and thought of her as some usual officer on a visit, but as soon as they got to know about her real identity, they were astonished as they had never expected that the Collector of the district would come out of her comfortable office and take such pains in order to visit their village and talk to them!
“Some people from the village came and met me at the district headquarters during my weekly grievance hearing session. So, I decided to visit their village and listen to their grievances there,” she exclaimed in an interview.
AN EFFECTIVE SESSION WITH THE VILLAGERS
Once the villagers recognized Ms. Tudu, they treated her to lunch and then sat down to converse with her. She discussed various welfare schemes with them such as food security measures, education for children, vaccination programs, etc. She also talked about the jobs under the MNREGA program. She talked to the locals about the different problems that the village was facing and listened to what they had to say.
“Connectivity is the main issue for this village,” recalled the Collector after the trek. “There is no electricity. At least seven families do not have ration cards. There are people eligible for social service schemes such as pension for the disabled, widow and the old age people,” she said.
After listening to the issues faced by the residents, Ms. Tudu gave directions to fast-track the services to this village. She has prioritized the construction of a road that will connect the village to the headquarters. So connectivity is no longer an issue for the people staying here. “The roadmap to this village has been passed and will be constructed soon with the aid of the MNREGA,” she said. She even showcased her wish of constructing a community center and improving the health sector in the village.
END OF THE ARTICLE