Nayagarh collector Arindam Dakua was the talk of the town recently when he cycled 80 km to connect with his people. But, cycling long miles is not an unusual habit for this maverick bureaucrat. Unlike his peers who prefer to commute in air conditioned cars, Dakua chooses to cycle his way through the villages in Maoist infested Nayagarh district. He shuns security personnel, risking his own life for attending to the welfare of the administered.
Spotting their collector on a bicycle with a sporty look has left the people stunned. Many in the district administration hail Dakua’s step as a unique master stroke. A babu reaching out to his people in a bizarre manner has also sent a strong message to officials in the district. It goes on to show an administrator’s commitment to deliver the best services to the people. Dakua himself plays down the initiative, saying the daily ritual has more to do with his penchant for keeping fit. These days, the health conscious collector plays tennis and cycles 15-20 km every day as part of his fitness regimen. Previously, he used to play cricket to maintain fitness.
On Kumar Purnima, an official holiday, people living in far-flung forest and hilly areas were surprised when they found the collector riding a bicycle. He asked about their well-being. Clad in shorts, T-shirt and a helmet, the collector travelled around 80 km to reach villages like Mahipur, Singarpalli, Bahadajhola, Dutikeswar, Odagaon and Sarankul and interacted with the villagers.
On the way, the collector did not divulge his identity to people in order to get unbiased information on whether they have availed government schemes meant for them.
However, when he visited certain schools and other institutions, people recognised him.
Seeing the collector at their doorsteps, elderly men and women affectionately surrounded him and voiced their grievances. They also submitted him petitions on community issues, road infrastructure, electricity, drinking water and sanitation.
The collector noted down the grievances and assured them of taking appropriate steps.
“I love to mingle and interact with the people as it helps me understand the ground situation better. I see it as an opportunity to reach out to the people at the grassroots, know their problems and grievances. This gives me better understanding of the functioning of government systems at the lower level and further steps for achieving better rate of performances,” says Dakua.
Dakua hails from Bhanjanagar in Ganjam district, his father was a clerk. He topped the state in 10+2 Arts in Odisha. After completion of +2 from KSUB College Bhanjanagar, he studied at Berhampur Khallikote College. Then, he completed Doctorate from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi. However, his interest was in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) which he finally tackled in the fourth attempt, securing 32nd rank.