Smita Sabharwal: Medak Collector to CMO
From Medak Collector to CMO as Additional Secretary: What makes Sabharwal so special? During the felicitation of family members of Telangana martyrs recently, the sensitive side of the woman collector came to the fore when she could not hold back her tears.
When she took charge of Medak in October last year, only 41 primary health centres were functioning in the district, today 64 of the 66 centres are functioning. Class 10 pass percentage which was just 64 per cent in the district has now jumped to 89 per cent and innovative ideas such as offering Tata Nano car if the villagers came out and voted in the recently held general elections are but a few of the achievements of SMITA SABHARWAL as collector of Medak district. Thanks to her proactive people-centric development activities, she has been appointed as additional secretary in the Chief Minister’s Office. HYDERABAD HANS looks at the changes that she brought to the district all in a matter of seven months.
During the felicitation of family members of Telangana martyrs recently, the sensitive side of the woman collector came to the fore when she could not hold back her tears. But the officers who worked under her recalled how the woman collector could also be a hard taskmaster.
“She took charge as collector of Medak on October 16 and conducted a review meeting the very next day. The state government had 20 key indicators for the ‘Marpu’ programme for preventing infant and maternal deaths. She added three more departments such as education, animal husbandry and electricity and gave a new focus to the programme. She saw to it that monthly meetings were held in villages and action on erring officials was taken,” said M Jaganath Reddy, district programme officer, National Health Mission.
High Risk Centres- A gift to Medak
In the year 2012-13 there were 958 infant deaths and the number of deliveries at the government hospitals was 1,500-1,600 per month. Since she took over the number of deliveries rose to 2,300 per month. In 2013-14 the number of infant deaths came down to 721.
There has been a reduction in the Maternal Mortality Rate from 39 maternal deaths in 2012-13 the number came down to 25 and this was possible only due to the establishment of High Risk Maternity Centre.
“Earlier hundreds of pregnant women would rush to Hyderabad but now the facilities at the centre are so good that there is no need. It is a gift from Smita Sabharwal to the people of Medak,” averred MS Chandra of Centre for Action and People’s Development (CARPED) who is working in Medak district to stop child marriages and other social causes.
Pregnant women with high risk in the district had no facility to look forward to but since Smita Sabharwal took charge in a matter of months the High Risk Centres were established. On February 1, a centre was started in Siddipet.
The Government District Hospital at Sangareddy was refurbished at a cost of Rs 3 crore in a matter of three months. Mohan, a resident of Sangareddy, says, “This development is unprecedented in the history of the state. Work started in February and was completed in May. It was possible only because of the collector as she created a special fund and took approvals quickly.”
Arming girls hostels with Skype facility
Smita Sabharwal was in a meeting when she received a message via Skype from a student of a girls hostel complaining about the lack of power for over a day and immediately the collector swung into action and saw to it that power supply was restored.
The education department had refused funds which prompted the collector to utilise funds from the CSR fund for the facility.
The tech-savvy collector had also installed Skype facility in primary health centres, area hospitals and district hospitals.
SSC pass percentage rises by 25 per cent
In what can be termed as a first time experiment, Smita Sabharwal ensured that a one month special coaching class was held before the annual exams in the evenings for Class 10 students. Tea and snacks were provided. The result: A jump in the pass percentage from 64 per cent in 2013 to 89 per cent in 2014.
Political apathy not in Medak
Just before the general elections, the collector went to the villages with an innovative scheme ‘voters panduga’- voters festival, luring them with attractive gifts that also included a Tata Nano car if the village achieved 95 per cent polling. Thanks to the initiative, people came out in droves to vote. A woman voter Paruna Lachavva of Chinnakonduru mandal in Siddipet bagged the car in a draw picked post the elections.
The collector would now be stationed in the capital in the Chief Minister’s office and would play a major role in the overall development of the new state but the people of Medak feel it is their loss and the state’s gain.
A rage on internet
As soon as she was appointed the additional secretary to the Chief Minister’s office on Thursday, hordes of messages congratulating the bureaucrat went viral on social media. Smita Sabharwal has two Facebook pages dedicated by her fans, each having over 20,000 likes. Infact, one of her fans has even opened a Wikipedia page to enlist the host of activities undertaken by her.