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Safai Karmacharis are True Followers of Gandhivad: Retired IAS Dedicates His Book to Sanitation Workers

Ajay Shankar Pandey's book ‘Gandhivad Prayog: Narak Se Nagar Ki Aor’ takes us through the labyrinth of municipal work
Indian Masterminds Stories

Just like throughout his career he set examples so also after his retirement he set a precedent. A rare occasion was captured at Ghaziabad’s Hindi Bhawan when two of the senior municipal workers were called in for the launch of a book written by former IAS officer Mr. Ajay Shankar Pandey.

The UP cadre former officer had served as the Municipal Commissioner of Ghaziabad for three years and was also the District Magistrate.

Titled ‘Gandhivadi Prayog: Narak Se Nagar Ki Aor’, Mr Pandey’s book which was ready in 2012 had to wait till after his retirement to get published.

Breaking away from tradition, the former officer not only made Mr. Sompal (72) and Mrs. Dayati Devi (85) the chief guests at his function but also announced that “the royalty received from the first edition will provide for the education of meritorious children of the cleaning staff”.

The book tries to capture the journey from hell to making of heaven of cities. Mr. Pandey has tried to reveal the real picture of the urban bodies during his tenure in various districts of Uttar Pradesh.

DEVOTION

Mr. Pandey, who has vast experience working in Municipal departments having served as the Municipal Commissioner in Ghaziabad, Gorakhpur, and for a few days in Kanpur, is popularly known as the officer who used to clean his office himself before starting his day.

He started the unique practice when he got posted as the SDM of Etmadpur tehsil in Agra. Within a week of his joining, the municipal workers went on a strike and the entire city turned into a huge dustbin with litter everywhere. 

The municipal workers demanded salary while the city dwellers raised questions regarding “no cleanliness”.

Mr. Pandey remembers: “I informed people not to depend on others and go out and clean their own neighborhood as that way no harm would come their way.” 

However, no one took his suggestion seriously that is when he decided to lead by example. 

“At first it appeared to all like a publicity stunt. But after I had cleaned part of the city with my team till afternoon, thousands of people joined us in the drive,” the officer recalled.

Cleanliness drive in Etmadpur tehsil in Agra

That drive continued for three days and the municipal workers decided to end their strike. They were ready to work and get paid as clearly cleanliness is next to godliness, Mr. Pandey said.

MORAL HIGH GROUND

Mr. Pandey, who served in the municipal department from 2004 to 2010, spoke exclusively to Indian Masterminds, and said there are many revelations in the book. But many parts have been kept for a second edition.

These unpublished parts are linked to the misdeeds and corrupt practices of all the interested parties related to the Municipal Corporation. “The book was ready in 2012 and permission for publication was also obtained from the state government, but, (setting the highest standards of morality), I did not publish it at that time,” he added.

TRENDSETTER

Mr. Pandey’s tenure from 2007 to 2010 is known as a clean, transparent, honest tenure in the history of
Municipal Corporation Ghaziabad. 

He is popular for bringing about the “zero commission system”, use of charkha, cleaning of the Hindon river, and a corruption-free administration. 

Former IAS officer Ajay Shankar Pandey

In his book, the officer has also told the story of anarchist elements who held the Gorakhpur Municipal Corporation hostage and how he managed to break that web.

Mr. Pandey’s message in the book is if once people start taking ownership of maintaining cleanliness no one will be able to trifle with godliness.


Indian Masterminds Stories

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