Bishalgarh: What comes to your mind when you think of administrative work? Lots of documents to sign? Lots of meetings to attend? Ensuring law and order in your area? All these are correct. But what about thinking out of the box to solve a problem? It is not often that administrative work, or the officers, get the time and the inclination to do so.
Which is why Vishwasree B is not just a ‘regular’ district magistrate and collector.
This 2014 Tripura cadre officer, presently deputed as Sepahijala district magistrate & collector, has set up panchayat level libraries across all 169 gram panchayat/ village councils to improve education in her area. And how she did it is as interesting as to why she did it.
Speaking with EastMojo, Vishwasree explains how she arrived at the idea. “During the field visit, we expect that developmental works are happening in various panchayats. I came across many buildings and many rooms which were lying unutilised. They needed some amount of maintenance and small repairs,” she said.
“There was a requirement for students and youngsters to have a place for interaction and study. So, we started renovating the unused rooms as well the unused Panchayat building and converted them into panchayat level library,” Vishwasree added.
She also said that this is to encourage the reading habit among the children, especially youths. These libraries would work as space for interaction, for discussion and for knowing others.
“We have started with newspapers and a few books. Later, competitive exam preparation books, books on great people and their biographies would be added. We are also looking to develop as places where we have a computer with an internet facility so that they can also apply for the exams or source for some additional information if they want to clarify,” the Sepahijala district magistrate added.
We have taken the initiative earlier in the first week of January and have set the target of having libraries in every gram panchayat or village committees In Sepahijala,” Vishwasree said.
She also said that this is the first time such an initiative has been taken up in Tripura. However, similar initiatives have been taken up in other parts of the country like Arunachal Pradesh and Jharkhand.
She also maintained that these libraries are not being set up by the administration or by any office. They are being set up at the panchayat level by the panchayat body in collaboration with the public.
“The infrastructure is with the panchayat. But books and other accessories are contributed by the public. It is more of a community-level infrastructure coming up, so the question of maintenance does not come. Overall supervision will be by the panchayat, but the people will continue to use the libraries,” Vishwasree.
“In the library, the district administration is putting the important phone numbers because most of the time we don’t know which is the nearest police station, what is the contact number of the concerned office.
There is also a space to put up public information, for example, job announcements, and other government schemes which could benefit the public,” the district magistrate added.
She also appealed to people who have unused books or books they have already read and don’t know what to do with them, to donate so that the books can be put to better use and then many people would like to read those books.
To see how these libraries are faring, EastMojo visited two Panchayats under Bishalgarh Rural Development Block– Lembutali Gram Panchayat and Purba Gokulnagar Gram Panchayat.
Speaking with EastMojo, Saurab Sutradhar, a resident of Lembutali, expressed his happiness at the Sepahijala district magistrate’s initiative. He said this would immensely help the youth who often waste their time doing trivial things.
“I have joined today, and from tomorrow, I shall ask my friends to visit the panchayat library and gain knowledge by reading books and newspapers,” Sutradhar said.
Another visitor, Ratan Sarkar, hoped that youths spend more time here instead of wasting their time.
He also said that he would bring his close friends and students to read some books and newspapers.
Rakshi Dey, Lembutali Panchayat Secretary, said that she received instruction from the Sepahijala district magistrate to set up Panchayat library for the local people and students.
“We did some minor repairing in the old unused rooms. We also did a little bit of painting on the walls and got some tables and chairs for the visitors. Newspapers and books are available for visitors to read,” Dey said.