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Harsh Gupta: Stormy Petrel

 

NK SUPRABHA | New Delhi, December 18, 2011 12:40
Tags : Harsh Gupta | IAS OFFICER | Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan |
 

As deputy collector (DC) of Bidar, Harsh Gupta was no less than a celebrity. As DC Chikkamagalur, tribals found a god sent savior in him. During his tenure as Mysore DC he decided to compile all irregularities found in land records which created more enemies for him than friends in the city. He was promptly transferred to Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), a post of great importance, but low on the pecking orders of priorities, as far as the civil bureaucracy is concerned. Gupta, who is managing director, Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation, Bangalore since November 2011, is a stormy petrel.

This 1997-batch IAS officer, a quintessential north Indian, has done two stints in Bangalore with the Bruhad Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike (BBMP) and the commercial taxes department.
Except these two, his postings have always been in the interiors: Chikkamagalur, Bijapur, Bidar and Chamarajnagar.

As DC of Bidar, he became synonymous with demolitions, even though in his case, looks can be deceptive. Reserved, smooth-talking and mild-mannered, Gupta’s thrives on perfection. His mild persona turns into a snarl if orders are not carried out to a T.

“There are different needs in different districts. Depending on the need we planned projects. In Chikkamagalur tribals were evacuated from forest and we addressed their grievances. Bidar is old congested city and we needed in place a master plan. In Mysore we addressed land revenue problems by affecting a complete overhaul.

“Whenever we find a problem we plan a project and sent proposals to the government. Sometimes they are accepted and at other times due to lack of resources, they are not,’’ says Harsha Gupta.

As DC of Mysore, Harsh Gupta launched a mission to update revenue records, including the records of rights, tenancy and crops (RTC), following a government directive.

More than 10,000 RTCs were updated in Periyapatna taluk alone in a month-long drive. Other measures include introduction of software designed to help monitor the movement of files. The letter monitoring system and file monitoring system reduced delays and helped tone up general administration.

A help desk was set up at the DC’s office, which functions like a single-window system aimed at cutting red tape.

Under his stewardship, the Mysore Urban Development Authority (MUDA) prepared a blue print to construct a housing complex for the government employees and 2,000 houses for people belonging to backward classes.

Does he think that he did good work as DC of Chikkamagalur, Bidar and Mysore? “Of course some work we could not complete and some work we could Shortage of resources and shortage of time comes in between pending projects. But I am satisfied with what I have done in my tenure” says Gupta, with a smile.

With such a perfectionist at the helm, there are rumours of a rift between Harsha Gupta and minister Ramdas Naidu during his term as DC, Mysore.

But Gupta plays it down. “There were some differences but I just did my duty.”

As project director SSA and additional secretary to the state government, Gupta piloted a project through which the government decided to integrate children with physical and intellectual disabilities into regular schools.

A sum of Rs 40 crore has been earmarked to admit these children to school and provide them with the all necessary help, including the provision of tricycles and other wherewithal enabling them to attend school.

As a tough law enforcer, Gupta made a third party inspection of school buildings constructed using SSA funds, compulsory so that quality was maintained. Nodal officers at the taluk level would be supplied with smart phones to take photographs of buildings constructed after third party inspection and they would be sent to Bangalore for final clearance.

As an honest bureaucrat, Gupta has taken harassment and setbacks from the high and mighty in his stride. For him, the most important thing is that he has done his duty. Also, he has set an example for others to follow.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017