First stops – West Jaintia Hills and West Khasi Hills; Next stop – Shillong!
While some orate their way to popularity, few others by exhibiting their talents, lesser known individuals tread the steps of recognition, and manage to find appreciation in the hearts of the people by doing what they do best – Being Humble.
Leading by example, this IAS officer from Karnataka has earned quite a name for himself in Meghalaya and is widely known in the districts where he had served as — The ‘People’s Deputy Commissioner’.
Arunkumar Kembhavi has become a household name in Meghalaya. All thanks to his people-friendly, unique and out-of-the-box ideas and initiatives to facilitate change in the society and though, he no longer serves as the DC of either WKH or WJH, he is, however, still known to the people of those districts as The People’s DC.
Less you forget, Kembhavi is known for his initiatives like Wall of Kindness (first in the region), building roads with shredded waste plastic technology, green office, online administrative system, deploying effective GPS tracking software for election monitoring (the 1st in the whole country) besides a chunk of other major initiatives.
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After being transferred to Shillong as the Registrar of Cooperative Societies and Director of Community and Rural Development just last week, Kembhavi, is already making a ‘green-mark’, an approach which has got many officers and staffs of the Secretariat talking about.
Shillong is a pleasant city but not pleasant enough when you are commuting from one place to another in a vehicle. And Yes! Shillong traffic was exactly the same nightmare, Kembhavi faced when he arrived in the capital city.
It didn’t take long for the young and vibrant officer to come up with an alternate solution to beat Shillong traffic and reach office on time. And his first preference was cycling to work. “After I joined secretariat last week, the first thing I did was I bought myself a cycle because I don’t want to experience the problematic nature of traffic,” Kembhavi said.
Since the commuting distance from his residence to the Secretariat is only a few kms away, it seemed a little idiotic for him to take a vehicle, with a hope to reach office in a jiffy, but only to get stuck in a traffic for half an hour.
“Shillong city is slowly becoming unlivable now and there is a need to regain the past glory of this city; and traffic being the main problem, I think we can all emulate other countries’ way of dealing with the problem — cycle to work,” he smilingly said.
Owing to the fact that Shillong’s weather is conducive to cycle, the decision to pedal all the way to work didn’t seem to bother him at all. The only challenge was, of course, the roads and all that they encompasses. “The roads here in the city are not conducive to ride a bike. And since, this is more or less a new concept, there is always a fear of being hit by a rash driver,” he expressed.
However, it is encouraging to see the attitude of the traffic police towards cyclists as they would always give way and let them through amid the chaos, Kembhavi added.
“For me, cycling is not a mean of staying fit, rather, it is a functional necessity to beat traffic,” said the IAS officer adding that the amount of time he saved from patiently waiting and getting annoyed in the traffic, is spent on more resourceful things at work.
Stating that the reactions he received from his colleagues are quite encouraging, Kembhavi said that the intentions expressed by some officers to ‘maybe’ follow suit is encouraging but then again, there is a slight disadvantage and that is the city roads does not have a cycling track to protect and restrain the cyclists to a particular track/ tracks.
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“Meghalaya has a good cycling club led by Abhishek Bhagotia (another IAS officer) called Cycling Shillong and I think through this club, we can encourage people to consider cycling as it is a more convenient mode of transportation within the periphery of the city,” he observed.
Stating that the number of cyclists in Shillong has increased, if not remarkably, Kembhavi said that youths are now getting into cycling, it is important to dedicate a lane for cycling in the roads of Shillong.
Though the perks attached with cycling is fitness and time-saving besides others, there is, however, a side-effect of cycling in the streets of Shillong and that is the pollution emitted from vehicles on a daily basis.
“The poisonous gas emitted by vehicles everyday is a bane for us and it deters us from achieving our objectives of staying healthy and fit. If only we can replace 100 cars with bicycles in the city, it would have proved beneficially not only physically but also environmentally. I don’t see any reason why people shouldn’t take up cycling,” he said.