Bhubaneswar: Dozens of farmers working in a paddy field under the scorching sun in Odisha’s Ganjam district were surprised to see several government officials walking towards them from a nearby paved road, where they parked the vehicles.
It was the district magistrate, Vijay Amruta Kulange, who had come to enquire about the ongoing paddy plantation work and the problems the farmers might be facing. Minutes after the conversation began, the farmers saw Kulange taking off his shoes and rolling up his trousers and shirt sleeves to get into the water-filled paddy fields.
For the nearly twenty minutes, the 2013-batch IAS officer worked in the field with the farmers, much to their amusement. Kulange planted paddy saplings while carrying on the conversation with the farmers, the district administration officials who accompanied him said.
“It was a moment of great happiness for us poor farmers to have the district magistrate work with us in the paddy field, standing in the squelchy mud. Such moments do not come often,” said Lakshmidhar Sahu, one of the farmers with whom Kulange worked at Bharasa village under Khalikot block on Monday.
Manoj Kumar Behera, the deputy director of agriculture in Berhampur zone who accompanied Kulange, said the district magistrate, while working with the farmers, also encouraged them to follow new and successful methods of agriculture as publicized by the state government from time to time.
The IAS officer’s act made waves across the social media, drawing praise from both commoners and experts on agriculture and development. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik took to twitter a day later to laud Kulange’s work.
“Ganjam district magistrate Vijay Amruta Kulange’s act of planting paddy saplings along with the farmers and telling them about the advantages of row-planting signifies dedicated public service. I thank the district magistrate for working close to the people and with a sense of dedication,” tweeted Patnaik.
Ganjam is the CM’s home district. Patnaik is currently an MLA from Hinjli constituency in the district. He was earlier elected twice to Lok Sabha from Aska constituency in the district.
Kulange, who became the DM of Ganjam a year ago in his first posting in the position, had earned praise from the people earlier this month when he led a campaign to make the defaced walls of public buildings clean in Berhampur, the district headquarters town.
“My aim is to ensure whole-hearted public participation in all development work. I feel happy when this happens,” said Kulange, 41, who hails from Maharashtra.
(With inputs from Kailash Behera.)