‘Maintaining co-ordination between various departments is a huge challenge and this leads to a lot of delays’.
Ghaziabad is said to be Uttar Pradesh’s “gateway to Delhi”, hence making it one of the top cities of the state. Counted among the cities with one of the highest GDP in UP, Ghaziabad is also notorious for its crime rate. In a conversation with The Sunday Guardian, Ritu Maheshwari, District Magistrate, Ghaziabad, and Vice Chairperson of the Ghaziabad Development Authority (GDA), and one of the most popular women officers in the state, spoke about the challenges of her job and her plans for Ghaziabad. Excerpts:
Q: It has been just a few months that you assumed the charge of DM, Ghaziabad. What is the biggest administrative challenge that faces you?
A: Ghaziabad is an urban city and the challenges that one faces in urban areas differ from rural ones. Here, being able to establish co-ordination between the various departments is a big challenge. A single activity or a project requires sanctions and involvement of people at various levels, which is why bringing everyone on the same page to cooperate does not prove easy. Other than that, a challenge exclusive to Ghaziabad is the problem of illegal land acquisition. The city has a high number of such land issues. Law and order is also a major concern.
Q: Historically, investors have a negative perception about Ghaziabad. How do you think the perception can be changed and what measures are you taking to ensure the same?
A: Yes, crime is a problem here, but the situation is not as bad as it used to be. There is change, but it will take some time for it to start reflecting in numbers. For investments, there are a lot of factors that affect an investor’s choice. In Ghaziabad, we have tried to boost connectivity and infrastructure. Ghaziabad has one of the best supplies when it comes to power supply and water supply.
Q: Do you think that the dual responsibility as a DM, Ghaziabad, and Vice Chairman of GDA, is challenging for you? How do you plan to face this challenge?
A: I do not think that it adds to any more challenges, but like I mentioned earlier, maintaining co-oordination between various departments is a huge challenge and this leads to a lot of delays. In this case, my dual responsibilities help me accelerate work, since it becomes comparitively easy to coordinate and function.
Q: What major change do you think Yogi Adityanath has made in the state compared to his predecessors?
A: All governments come with their pros and cons. So I will not get into that. However, the Uttar Pradesh government has certainly tried to pose itself an investment hub for which facilities like single window clearance and other digital initiatives have proved to be helpful. Infrastructure is a key necessity for investments and Uttar Pradesh has been faring well on that account.
Q: What development plans do you envisage majorly in Ghaziabad to give it a boost in the next few years?
A: Law and order is certainly one of the targets. To bring down the crime rate is a challenge, but not impossible. We have already observed that awareness among people has helped society to get more vigilant. Other than this, cleanliness is one of my aims. If you go around the city, you can observe that there is a conscious effort to maintain Ghaziabad by ensuring door-to-door garbage collection and plantation drives. We have also focussed on connectivity since Ghaziabad is strategically located near the capital. Metro is expected to bring a major boost to daily commuters.