Education drive: Ex-Dantewada collector gets PM award

Former Dantewada collector Om Prakash Choudhary has won the Prime Minister’s Award For Excellence in Public Administration for 2011-12

Written by Express News Service | Raipur | Published: April 20, 2013 4:03 am

Former Dantewada collector Om Prakash Choudhary has won the Prime Minister’s Award For Excellence in Public Administration for 2011-12. Choudhary,who was appointed collector in March 2011,was recently transferred to Raipur and made Director Public Relations.

The award was given for educational initiatives he introduced in the district that has witnessed a great deal of Police-Maoist violence in the last decade and has one of the worst human development indicators in the country,with a literacy rate of just 42 per cent.

Within months of joining,the first-time collector introduced innovative projects in tribal-dominated Dantewada,including the state’s first Livelihood College and a 100-crore Education City,besides a host of residential schools. He also introduced special schools for children orphaned in violence and set up South Bastar’s first auditorium where children brought from villages could be shown movies.

His biggest success probably lies in creative utilisation of various funds — He used the money that fell under the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) bracket of firms such as NMDC,IAP,as well as funds of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan to set up the Rs-100 crore project for higher education. He also used Essar’s CSR fund to establish first stadium in South Bastar.

Congratulating him,Chief Minister Raman Singh,said,“He has done exemplary work,and showed the way for others. I am happy that the PMO has taken recognition of his efforts.” The Chief Minister has already appointed him as the nodal officer for setting up livelihood colleges in every district on Dantewada model.

Choudhary,however,has been criticised for his centralised approach — most of his initiatives are at district or block headquarters. Defending his approach,Choudhary said,“Yes,we need to decentralise more,but this region is marked by violence and inaccessibility. I adopted cluster approach,develop a region and then go further in. We are now able to education where it was not available a few years ago. And results are visible in just 24 months.”

“This region has a historical backlog of illiteracy and backwardness. To bring any sustainable change,one must work with determination and patience for at least ten years,” he added.

The Prime Minister’s Award For Excellence is given under three categories — individual,team and organisation — and this year’s individual winners include Rae Bareli District Magistrate Amit Gupta and Joint Secretary to the Chief Minister of Karnataka Darpan Jain.

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