Honouring the finest district magistrates in India
The hillocks of Rampachodavaram are covered with dense forests, with many of the tribal hamlets here largely inaccessible. Part of Andhra Pradesh's East Godavari, one of five in the state that are on the list of districts affected by Left Wing Extremism, there is very little presence of the State in these parts.
The villages here are spread out and there was earlier almost no way a government official could communicate with a tribal living in hamlets in these parts, especially if someone was sick or in the case of any other emergency. That's when Kartikeya Misra, who was then District Magistrate of East Godavari, decided to use Google's X FSOC or Free Space Optical Communications technology to reach out to the villagers. The experiment, which connected the remote villages with the district collectorate, changed the lives of the tribals.
Using the Andhra Pradesh State Fibernet Limited's fibre grid network laid up to Rampachodavaram town, FSOC transmits signals to seven villages located in the hills, enabling them to use facilities such as mobile connectivity, internet and wireless landline connectivity. FSOC uses light to transmit high-speed data between two points.
On August 21, Misra was among 15 district magistrates to be honoured with The Indian Express Excellence in Governance Awards that celebrated the finest work done by DMs across the country.
"The idea was to provide basic connectivity to people in tribal hamlets. Earlier, a medical emergency would take place and administration would get to know of it a day later. With increased connectivity, people are connected to emergency services. The project has impacted thousands of lives in the East Godavari region," Misra said after receiving the award.
East Godavari District Magistrate Kartikeya Misra receives the award from Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari.
Says a villager who had travelled several kilometres to the Rampachodavaram Area Hospital in the district headquarters, "The mobile connectivity enables us to call up officials to register a grievance or if we need some help. Earlier, if there was any problem or an emergency, we had to walk 8-10 km down from the hills to contact the nearest government official. Now we use the video conference facility on our phones to talk to doctors at the Primary Health Centre or Area Hospital. Thanks to this technology, we can now stay in touch with our children studying in residential schools nearby. We also now talk among ourselves in the villages, something that was not possible earlier. Youngsters have started using WhatsApp and social media too."