Turning around adversities
The turnaround of Singareni Collieries spearheaded by IAS officer APVN Sarma has been taken for case study by several management institutions. Born in...
The turnaround of Singareni Collieries spearheaded by IAS officer APVN Sarma has been taken for case study by several management institutions. Born in Andhra Pradesh and from the AP cadre, his positive contributions to the state in professional capacity have left long standing impact As the Chairman and Managing Director of Singareni Collieries, IAS officer APVN Sarma has been instrumental in a major turnaround and this was taken up for case study by IIM. Many years later as Secretary Shipping in New Delhi, he was witness to many significant developments and was a part of the major expansion of various ports. While with the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, he strived, successfully at that, to establish a Vedic University in Tirumala. Born in 1949 in Machilipatnam, APVN Sarma had his early education in Avanigadda, Machilipatnam and Gudivada in Krishna District. He studied Civil Engineering at the then Regional Engineering College, Warangal. He joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1974 and was allotted Andhra Pradesh Cadre. In addition to serving as Sub Collector in Parvatipuram, followed by Srikakulam District and in Chandragiri, Chittoor District of Andhra Pradesh and later as Collector in Nalgonda, Guntur and Warangal Districts; he worked in various capacities with the Government of Andhra Pradesh leaving his mark in every department that he served. What has been your role in expansion of various ports under your tenure as Secretary, Shipping? By the time I joined as Secretary, Shipping at Delhi in February, 2008, a model bidding document for enhancing port capacities was at the finalisation stage. In the absence of an approved model bidding document, different major ports were unable to initiate public private partnership (PPP) programs for expansion of port capacity. I got the model bidding document finalised quickly and initiated a large number of PPP projects in all major ports. A large number of these projects have since been awarded and work is under way in most of them. We piloted a bill in Parliament to set up an Indian Maritime University with headquarters in Chennai. This enables our students to aspire for higher level maritime studies with world-class standards and as a result have opened up greater opportunities in international job market. The Bill was enacted into a Law and the IMU is now functioning. We initiated a policy for developing some of our Light Houses into proper tourist destinations through Public Private Partnership programs. You were responsible in bringing Singareni on to the rails. How did it happen? I joined Singareni Collieries on January 1, 1997. At the end of Financial Year 1996-97, we had accumulated losses of Rs 1,240crores! The turnaround of Singareni Collieries was a result of combined efforts of the officers, workmen and the top management of the Company with complete support from the political leadership in the state. In fact, the turnaround of Singareni has been a case study at some of the IIMs and other Management Institutions. Recently even the ISB has done a case study on this subject. My successor in office at Singareni, Shri RH Khwaja has even written a book on this in collaboration with a professor of management. Details of how the turnaround happened will easily fill a book and more! However in short it was possible because of trust created in workers that the management was sincere in helping them in their personal and professional lives and saving the Company and emphasising on improving productivity of workmen and equipment and sticking to certain minimum standards of work discipline without any compromise. Can we know about your association with TTD and creation of Vedic University? I was lucky to be posted as Executive Officer of TTD in February 2005. During that that time I was working as joint secretary in Ministry of Coal at New Delhi. My tenure in TTD was marked by several eventful developments. A project called Sravanam was started to identify and treat deafness in infants, so that they can attend normal schools when they grow to 4 or 5 years of age. I was lucky to be the Executive Officer when Maha Samprokshana of Srivari Temple took place in 2006. This special ceremony takes place once in 12 years. I was also blessed to revive and introduce some rituals like Pavitrotsavam in all temples under TTD other than Srivari Temple, Purnima Garudaseva of Srivaru on certain Purnima days, taking Malayappa Swamy around the four Mada Streets every day after Unjal Seva, Varaha SwamyJayanti etc. Thanks to His Excellency Dr Rameshwar Thakur, the then Governor of Andhra Pradesh, TTD was able to establish Sri Venkateswara Veda Viswavidyalayam through an Act of the AP Legislature. Can you share some memories of your tenure as District Collector Warangal and Guntur? I served as a district Collector in Nalgonda during, in Guntur during 1988-89 and in Warangal in 1989. Notable events have been: Nalgonda (1982-83): The Assembly elections in 1983 that brought in the first Telugu Desam Government were conducted peacefully. We were able to retrieve some rare sculptures and inscriptions and also earmark land for a Museum which became a reality later on. The mass housing program of the Government was implemented with zeal. Guntur (1988 - 89): A large number of economic support schemes for the Scheduled Castes left unfinished were taken up and revived. The large scale unrest and violence in the wake of the killing of Vangaveeti Ranga in Vijayawada was contained and relief extended promptly. Warangal (1989): During the Warangal floods of August 1989, several localities in Warangal Municipality were under standing water. Relief was extended promptly to the affected. What was your role as Joint Secretary Coal, after Singareni tenure? During 2001, when I was in my fifth year at the helm of Singareni, the then Union Coal Secretary NK Sinha visited Singareni Collieries and learnt firsthand about the turnaround and how Singareni was contributing substantial sums to the exchequer of the State and Centre every year, instead of the Governments supporting Singareni through large sums by way of budgetary support every year in the decade before 1997. He was instrumental in placing me as Joint Secretary, Ministry of Coal in October 2001. My earlier experience in Singareni was very useful in formulating policy for coal in its varied hues - distribution, allotment of coal blocks etc. I could persuade the Director General of Mines Safety to permit introduction of diesel mining equipment for the first time in underground mining leading to better productivity. We were also able to guide the coal companies to tender for long term contracts for overburden removal, resulting in deployment of large sized Heavy Earth Moving Machinery leading to improvement in productivity and reduction in costs and accidents. (The writer is former Additional Director General, Doordarsan) email: padmanabharao. [email protected]