Sanjay Kumar, is an IAS officer of 1984 Batch Maharashtra Cadre, Additional Chief Secretary Housing Department. He was born in Jharkhand village, known as Daltonganj Palamu district. He had done Masters from JNU in 1983 and in the year 1984 he had applied for Civil Service. His first posting was in Badrul in Akola District as Assistant Collector. He was collector for almost 8 years in Marathwada Region and then as Secretary MERC (Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission), Municipal Commissioner in Pune, Divisional Commissioner of Aurangabad, Secretary – Education department. He was instrumental in framing new Acts for New Private schools and also created norms for Non- grant and Grant category schools. He also worked as Additional Chief Secretary, Women and Child Welfare Department, Mumbai and presently working as Additional Chief Secretary Housing Department.
In an exclusive Interview with India Unbound Magazine, Sanjay Kumar shared his experience at various postings and his duties.
Nityanand Pandey & Ankita Mishra
Kindly tell us about your childhood days, family background. Where you born and brought up?
I hail from small village of Jharkhand, Daltonganj Palamu, it is a district headquater. My father was the head clerk in the collector office. Earlier there was a craze of government schools and student used to get education from government school. When I was 10 years old there was a very famous public school Mitargad public school. I have completed my education in 1971. After completing my intermediate I went to St. Xaviers College in Ranchi. Basically I was from science background, but my father always motivated me to join civil services. I was good in biology and desired to become a Doctor, but somehow my father wish prevailed. He asked me to join Arts field. At St Xavier’s college I joined Arts and took Political Science. I passed out from there in 1981. Thereafter I joined JNU in the school of international studies and was there from 1981 to 1983. In the 2nd year of masters I applied for civil service and in 1984 I joined civil service and allotted to Maharashtra cadre.
What are your memories of 1984 batch? Do you still meet your batch mate?
We completed our training session in Lal Bahadur Shastri – National Academy of Administration , Mussoorie. And then came back to the district training. With the new batch we were sent to the new places such as Bharat Darshan, for army attachment and Davan near China border. We lived with our forces to have a feel of their life. It was a 2 years of course. The memories of 1984 batch are quite good. Once we go back to our cadre then we rarely meet. We generally meet each other in some of the meetings in Delhi if we belong to the same department. We had about our silver jubilee celebration where our entire batch mates met in Delhi and celebrated. Our full batch training of Phase 5 was partly done in US and partly in Mussoorie, which was the training programme for one and a half month. Now when we meet our batch mates we don’t talk any professional thing but all unofficial regarding to our life.
Elaborate on your various postings throughout your career so on?
I joined services in 1984. My district training in 1985 was in Amravati and my first posting was in Badrul which was in Akola district. After completing my Assistant collector session, I went to Buldhana as a CEO Zilla Parishad for about 2yrs from there I become CEO in Bhandara for 2 and a half years. Then I was posted as district collector for 3 years. I was collector in Aurangabad for 3 years. So, I was collector for almost 8 years in Marathwada Region. Whereas, my earlier posting was in Vidharbha. I came to Mumbai as a secretary of Deputy Chief Minister of Gopinath Munde. Then after that I was posted in SRA. Followed by posting in MIDC for about one and a half month then I was promoted and shifted to secretary MERC (Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission). I was Municipal Commissioner in Pune for about one and a half years. I had been to World Bank Project Health Infrastructure and was about there for one and a half years too and was shifted to Ware House Corporation in Pune for 2 years. I served as Divisional Commissioner of Aurangabad and since then I am here. In 2008, I became Secretary Education then after 3 years Higher Technical Education followed by Women and Child Welfare Department and presently as additional Chief Secretary in Housing Department.
Tell us about your achievement in your various posting?
A commitment of whatever you do itself is a great achievement. For myself, I think making a stadium without any government money but only public participation is a great achievement. Then I went to Osmanabad aftermath of earthquake. I was also actively involved in the earthquake Rehabilitation Programme. It was as real challenging task. In education sector we had prepared the prospective plans, created a new act for new private school, mapping for the new school. There is an objective criteria while giving permission to the school and creating norms for Non-Grant school and for Grant category; it was an exercise which we used to do. Speaking about Child Women Welfare, we used to involve all Corporate sector under CSR and in this our achievement was we used to guide 1000 of people for backyard kitchen garden. The initiative was supported by the Reliance Institute which is situated in Nagpur was our great achievement.
As Pune is the one of the fastest growing city in Maharashtra, how was your experience as a Municipal Commissioner in Pune?
I was there for small period of time. We had decided that IT is the sector which can be taken and explored into big way. MIDC was creating more of IT areas but at the same time non MIDC, IT area had large scope for IT and IT related services. At that juncture we came out with the IT policy whereby we allowed them to have property tax on power with residency area exemption for IT and IT related services from Octroi and Additional FSI. It was aimed to give a good impact to IT sectors in Pune in non MIDC. So, this was a very good achievement. Then we decided to build a green building, we basically emphasised on three components to build a building where we use a roof top and that roof top used for solar heating system for conservation of energy. Water which is used in flask or sea waves it is retreated and re-use for gardening and flashing for Tree plantation. So, in this way we thought to use property tax as a tool to promote these kinds of initiatives.
What are the major challenges you have faced as a Housing Additional Secretary as a Maharashtra State?
Besides Food, Education and Health, Housing is one of the fundamental needs of the people to that extent it becomes very important department. Fortunately, when I joined there was already a Central Government Scheme of Prandhan Mantri Awas Yojana, concept in which housing shall be provided to all till 2022. Well, we have to complete 20 lakh houses till 2022 to contribute to nation and this is the biggest challenge for the department and government but I am sure Maharashtra will achieve the said goal.
What are the contribution of Maharashtra state government for Prime Minister Narendra Modi project, “har gareeb ka ghar ho apna target 2022 under the affordable housing scheme?
Maharshtra is highly urbanized state. Urbanization is more than 45% and there is an aspiration for the rural area people to migrate to urban area for the better education, for better health facilities and for better living facilities. But, at the same time this city has to cop up in term of civic infrastructure to meet their housing requirement, the majority falls in the category of EWS, LIG and MIG. If you see the all India figure the total housing requirement stimulated under Pradhan Mantra Awas Yojana and is about 2 crores and out of that 10% is to be contributed by Maharashtra state. In Maharashtra, more than 40% houses have to be contributed by MMRDA such as Thane, Pune and more places. So, we have formulated different strategies for different areas. So, Maharashtra is going to be a key player in the entire Prime Minister Awas Yojana because, it will be contributing in more than 10% of the housing to the scheme we have to achieve that particular target and in private credit link subsidy scheme recently we were also rewarded as the first prize winner under CLSS.
In SRA and Mhada many builders cheated while projecting to slum dwellers, what type of guidelines you are going to circulate and formulate so that builder should not cheat them?
SRA project was created almost 20 yrs back and at that time the socio economic system was very different. Basically, this scheme was formulated to make Mumbai slum free, but over a period it has been distorted to a very large extent. Now we are coming with a comprehensive review of SRA and from last three months we are working on that. Last year we had a presentation with our CM. There we are trying to ensure some of the disturbances which were created should be removed and all these things should be carried along with Prime Minister Awas Yojana.
There are allegations against the earlier SRA CEO, Vishwas Patil, cleared more than 100 files in the last month of itself of his retirement?
Clearing file in the last month it sought itself is not a great charge. We have to see how he had cleared it. Some of the major file has been taken into custody we have setup a committee and the new CEO, Deepak Kapoor has directed to scrutinize each and every file and we will get the report and the role of Vishwas Patil in the entire thing and the law will take its own action and responsibility if he found guilty.
In SRA projects there are Major violations in Annexure-II done by the builders, purposely to cheat people and take benefits of SRA. How are you going to control such corruption in MHADA and SRA?
You can only create an institution, use technology, use Aadhar link to read it out. You also expect the people to be honest. Now it is a fact, that there are problems at various stages of SRA. Institutional frame work has been provided for providing a solution. but, still the problems remains. So, the system of justice is there. But that alone will not solve the problem. You have to think out of box. Houses should be kept for those who are not eligible, of course at a cost. Under Prime Minister Awas Yojana, nobody should expect to get a house at free of cost. Houses are subsidised about 32 to 40%. Otherwise people who are not eligible, who create all the problems, which fight for the eligible layers, who are paid by the builder to get evicted and who are those people who go somewhere else and create another slum. Why not to take them into confidence and provide houses for them either there or near by the area. So, that type of discipline is required in which there will be no disturbance between SRA and builders to complete their project too soon we will get that solution in the interest of public at last.
MHADA has the role where constructing buildings in the state, it seems only few major players like B.G. Shirke, Shaporji Palanji, HDIL & others but, their construction quality is very poor. What is the reason?
Because, we are not paying attention to the quality. Now they are meeting the quality which we have prescribed in the estimate plan. We should check those plan estimate whether it is matching the estimate of the private builder. Secondly you have to see that the private builders are giving at what cost. We have to basically see the quality which has been prescribed in the agreement whether that has been matched or not. You cannot compare two different products at differently price.
Gender equality is an important issue, according to you which strategies help women becomes more socially and economically empowered?
Education ! The moment women become economically and financially empowered it leads the gender equality. They start participating in making decision at family level, society level or at any level. Women become financially powerful or are empowered is through education. We are in democratic country, where we have equal opportunities for everyone, but society has to change. Constitution is provided for the equality but the family level gender equality is still downwards and that will come only when they are rich treated, they are employed and start making money. When they become independent and then they are respected by the society. So the key is the Education! Education!! Education!!!.
There is a lot of corruption going on in MHADA & SRA, is there any plan to control it?
I would not agree to lot of corruption but, none of the corruption is acceptable at all. We have a vigilance department who is taking action on it. Some cases are still taken in a writ-petition. Some cases are with the ACB. So we have the institute to control the corruption but ultimate solution is; less human touch and more use of technology and online system. Use of technology and online system shall drastically reduce corruption. There has to be zero tolerance about the corruption. If there is any corruption then, it will not be tolerate by us at all.
Recently Chief Minister inaugurated the biggest redevelopment project of BDD chawl Naigaon and NM Joshi Marg, Providing 2 BHK to the tenant’s project given to L&T & Shapoorji Palonji. will they deliver this project on time with good quality?
Yes, that is what we are thinking and moving in that direction. Task is not very easy. When you start working then you find and face lots of problems. Thankfully, we have various level of problem resolution mechanism. We have got high power committee; we have got committee at our level. There are different levels of committee where at any repo time problem can be sorted out. At the present moment it is working in a right direction. In such a big project there are some elements who are disgruntled, they will try to create problem. You have to sort out whatever the genuine problem are there. Hopefully the timeline which is stimulated, we will be able to meet.
Recently MAHA RERA has been introduced, the builders are feeling insecure. What guidelines & strategy been a housing secretary will you plan to built up trust among the builders?
No, it’s nothing like to build trust! The fear is among those who fear the MAHA RERA. Our issue is they were operating in the system where there was no regulatory mechanism. So it was free from all but that time the consumers were suffering a lot. So a system and situation had to be created where genuine builders remain there and also the consumer rights are protected. Now, the issue is MAHA RERA has been created based on the sad experience over period of time; where the builders have started the project and have diverted the money to somewhere else and have not completed their respective project. But of course, we have to protect the builders right also. They are the biggest investors. The genuine builder does not fear. Fear is amongst those who do not want to meet the rights and the protection of the consumers and as a democratic nation, rights of the consumers has to be protected. It is the responsibility of the government to create regulatory frame work and whatever you promise you deliver. That is a great initiative by the government in the respect of consumer’s right.
In the Modi government there is already slack in market, 1st demonetization then, Maha RERA now GST… How much it will be helpful for nation’s growth?
Earlier, nation was growing in a particular manner. Now, there is a different Global stage, where GST has come, demonetization has come, Maha RERA has come. Therefore, the market is slack. If you see the history of last 70 years, even without Maha RERA there were occasions where market was in slack. You cannot attribute this slack market to Maha RERA, GST, or demonetization. The real estate and market are decided by lot of other factors. Now GST is nothing but, tax. Previously, there were other kinds of taxes. Now, those different taxes have consolidated as “One Nation One Tax” that has been simplified. GST has not at all impacted real estate it is only the fear. In future it will impact and when you want white money to come in this sector and you want FDI in this sector you need this regulatory mechanism or else nobody will invest if you are not sure. So now it is sure that throughout the country this is the tax, this is the regulation and this is the mechanism and then if you want to invest it will allow good flow of FDI in the real sector. Issue is what do you mean by slack? The price which was there earlier, was that real? With this only the builders were getting the benefits, instead consumers should get that. But now more transparency and white money will flow in the real estate.
What is your expectation from CM Devendra Fadnavis for housing project in MHADA & SRA?
The government including CM have expectations from the housing sector that we complete our project goal by the end of 2022 which is 20 lakhs housing only for Maharashtra but 2 cr for entire country need to be constructed.
Suicide is not something that can be over looked. It is the third leading cause of death in today’s youth. According to you what is the major reason behind it?
Basically there is too much pressure from the parents to achieve the goal. This is the world where everybody has the right to live, not only those who have achieved 90% in SSC exam but, also who got 60% as well as 30%. Even they are nation builder. The problem is with the parents; they are deciding the kind of root which he/she has to take irrespective of child’s talent. So, parents should become a counsellor of their own child. Another reason is there is too much of pressure from peer groups, sometimes when our children intent to go other school where your socio economic condition do not match with your other colleague that leads to depression. And then finally, there is too much gap between what you achieve and what you expect. In this materialistic world, you are exposing to so many things that your expectation goes so high, and when you enter the real life whatever you are receiving in terms of your salary that time it can’t match your expectation. So, the solution is not to commit suicide, at the end of the day one can enjoy this beautiful world only if you live this beautiful world.
Who is your role model in your life?
My parents are only role model in my life.
Which sport do you like ?
As a child I used to play table tennis and I am still good in it. And my hobby, is cooking. On a daily routine, I cook for my wife. Recently, I also participated in cooking competition.
How you spent your leisure time?
My hobby is cooking, gardening and I like to read defence related articles and International strategy articles. I also read about agriculture and farming. So these three things never make me free. I can sit on one place and can read as many articles I can. I don’t need to go out to spend my leisure time. And as I come from Jharkhand which is fully covered with forest so, that is why I love forest and nature.
What advice you want to give to the student who aspire to become an IAS & IPS?
My advice is that, they should formulate a good strategy to study. You have to prepare a strategy and for that you have to start your studies early. Because, it basically involves the knowledge of everything moreover, you have to specialise yourself in few subjects and one should always keep the habit of reading newspaper, books, magazine. This will help to prepare that kind of strategy you have to work out. One more thing is to create a role model. You have to be inspired by some IAS or IPS officers. I used to be inspired by the new IAS officer who used to come for training during my childhood time. That kind of inspiration made me a responsible IAS. Now a day on internet every feeding material you get whatever you want. In our time we have to go from library to library, to get the material of some of the subject or some of the syllabus. So, prepare a studying strategy in a smart manner.
What message would you like to spread through India Unbound to your department & India Unbound readers?
Help poor people in terms of education, health and housing. My message to every civil service officers that they get an excellent opportunity to help to those who can’t get help and to them who find difficulties, although we have got equality but there are some people who can access the system more easily to get the benefits. Even after retirement, IAS officers should help as they have lots of experience, knowledge which they can share. Even if they hand holds two people for education, that can make a lot of difference. We should live not only for ourself but, also for others after the retirement. After retirement, one can handhold their experience and knowledge to a graduate and can direct them; they might become a good IAS officer or deputy collector in future. Anybody can share their knowledge, not necessary to earn money but you can share your idea, experience and spent some time. Because, who gets the experience of 35 years in social welfare, some times in Agriculture or in any different thing can share their experience. I don’t know whether I would be able to do it but, that is something what inspires me.