Bhopal: Collector Avinash Lavania on Saturday visited the Free Press Bhopal office and shared with the team his experiences of tackling covid-19, development works being done, projects in the state capital and aspects of his personal life. He said that helping people releases Dopamine inside him. Helping people gives a sense of joy that has multifold effect. Seeing a stranger help someone makes everyone present at the scenario happy, he said. Excerpts:
What are the challenges in the collectorship of a state capital compared to that of a remote part of the state?
Protocols are stricter in the state capital as it is the hub of every state activity. For instance, same event needs to be handled sensitively in the state capital as compared in remote area. We always have to do a little extra here.
What kind of books do you read?
I had to read so many course books that I could not do justice with literature. But I do read. ‘Animal Farm’ (by George Orwell) is my favourite. The book is like an entire course in sociology, portraying today’s reality.
How do you spend your free time?
I love teaching mathematics to my 11-year-old daughter.
What are your plans for your daughters?
I will leave it to them to choose their own path. Though I often tell my girl ‘apne pita ka naam roshan karna (Make me proud!)’.
How did a technocrat in you help the bureaucrat?
Being an IT engineer has definitely helped me. Studies at IIT changes your approach towards solving the problems. I was part of projects like SWAN and State Data Centre as project director. That was because of my IIT background.
What are the challenges to promote industries in Bhopal?
Any investor will first look at the ease of doing business at any place. They seek ideal infrastructure, connectivity and raw materials. Bhopal being in the centre has super connectivity. But, infra can be made available only when industries show interest. Efforts are on to end this vicious cycle.
Which sectors can be targeted to promote industrialization in Bhopal?
We are currently targeting labour intensive and women-centric sectors in the first leg. Industries like Zari- Zardozi that involve intricate designs and needlework, expansion in textile sector, and sectors that require human resource have good scope in Bhopal. We have scope for adventure and eco-tourism. There are plans in the anvil and I hope they turn into reality soon.
How was your work-life during the second wave?
It was tough. We knew there would be repercussions of every action. Lives were at stake. For almost two weeks during the peak-time we could hardly get sleep. I remember, April 20 to May 5 were the scariest.
How did your team tackle the second wave?
I am glad I have a good team. I have to say that the oxygen tanker drivers did a phenomenal job by driving for hours without taking any rest, helping us maintain a regular supply. We ensured they get food in time besides a co-driver to ensure non-stop drive. Our timely intervention at of a central hospital added 700 extra beds to meet the emergency.
How did you take care of the stress?
There was no time to think about stress. We were working day in and day out. We had the responsibility to save lives and we had to deliver at all costs. My team just required a pat on the back for serving the people.
How did you manage to feed the homeless during lockdown with the shops and streets shut?
NGOs did a commendable job. The crisis portrayed a very emotional picture with people helping people in need, despite the conditions they were in.
What are the lessons learnt from the 2nd wave and the preparations for the possible third wave?
Health sector needs a lot of work. We understood that oxygen shortage had to be tackled. We now have enough plants generating medical oxygen in the state. We have increased the beds in the city from 6,000 to 9,000 and 20% have ventilators. Our pharmacies are being equipped with enough medicines required for treatment.
Which projects were affected because of the pandemic?
Though there were pending projects, we have managed to finish them up as of now despite difficulties. Projects like Arch bridge, Smart road and Boulevard street were accomplished despite covid-19. Some of the central reserve fund projects underway are Ayodhya Bypass road, link road, Kolar road, Barrai road besides the irrigation canal and the road from Billabong to DPS.
Any plans on constructing alternative route to airport?
It can be considered. If the Barrai road is fixed, we can connect it to the airport from the outer region via Kolar and Sehore road through bypass.
Away from VIP culture, removes hooter from car
Collector Bhopal Avnish Lavania, on Saturday announced that he will do away with the hooters on his vehicle, to live a life like a normal citizen with responsibility of serving the people. Lavania also urged other officials of the district administration to remove hooters from their vehicles and do away with any other tradition that represents a VIP culture.
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