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‘Migration coming down in Wanaparthy district’

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Wanaparthy district, one of the historically significant areas of Telangana has been known for its contribution to Telugu literature and culture. However, being one of the newly carved-out districts after districts’ reorganisation, it still finds its place among one of the most backward districts in the State. Its been more than 15 months since the the new district has been formed and expectations among its people are high. In an exclusive interview with Vivek Vardhan Reddy, the district Collector Sweta Mohanty details-out the developmental initiatives taken up since the district was formed.

Wanaparthy has been known for low literacy levels, high drop-out rate and poor results in SSC exams last year. What are the steps being taken by the district administration?

It is true that our students had performed poorly in last year’s exams. This year we have ensured all schools have teachers and vidya volunteers and that they attend to their duties regularly. Attendance of teachers has increased like never before. Our goal is not just about securing higher percentage in results but to improve the quality of education and improvement of learning methods among students. It is important to have logical thinking for children. For this, we are focussing more on Comprehensive Continuous Evaluation (CCE) and have also started a Minimum Numerical Programme in all schools for Class III to Class IX students. The programme involves a peer learning module, where children are given 30 mathematical sums to complete in 20 minutes every day since August. Children, who were able to solve 5 sums a day in the beginning, are now able to solve 15 sums.

What are the initiatives taken to improve medical and healthcare facilities?

Due to KCR Kits and improvement of medical facilities in government hospitals, we went from 28 per cent institutional deliveries in government hospitals to 60 per cent. We are also doing a pilot project on providing diagnostic services in government hospitals on par with private hospitals. Nearly 19 blood tests can be done and a gynaecologist has been appointed exclusively for doing ultra-sound. New equipment has been bought and we want to computerise everything. We are trying to address the issue of malnutrition among adolescent girls by testing all adolescent girls in the district for haemoglobin content. Cards with their condition are being issued to them with course of remedy if haemoglobin content is found low. We will do this exercise once in three months. We have also installed insinuators in schools for girls to dispose-off sanitary napkins and have set-up vending machines for sanitary napkins in all KGBVs.

Has the issue of labour migration seen any change in the recent past?

Migration has decreased in areas like Ghanpur, Kothakota, Goplpet and Panugal. The trend could be attributed to irrigation schemes like Kalwakurthy Lift Irrigation Scheme (KLI) and Bheema-II.

What is the status of Swachh Bharat Mission?

When I took-up charge, 4-5 gram panchayats were declared as Open Defecation-free (ODF). With a lot of efforts put-in by us, we were able to declare 45 gram panchayats ODF. Out of the 1,15,000 households in the district, we were able to complete construction of 55,000 Individual household Latrines (IHHLs). Out of them, 18,000 IHHLs were constructed in the past 4 months alone. We were very fortunate that we were able to secure Rs 30 Crore for this purpose.

Is there anything innovative being tried with respect to agriculture here?

Wanaparthy is a district where the best quality groundnut is produced, which has very high demand in international market for its low aphrotoxin levels. We have teamed-up with ICRISAT and are trying to use our women from SHGs to process groundnut and manufacture products like ‘chikki’ and other items. We are getting a groundnut research station and we want to educate farmers more on that front. Recently we have sent 45 farmers to Amaravati for an exposure visit for organic farming.

Is there any plan to develop Wanaparthy as a tourist destination?

We are trying to include the famous Srirangapuram temple into the temple tourism circuit. We have grandly conducted Telugu Mahasabha events at the temple. This temple has religious significance and is a scenic beauty. We are also offering a tour and stay at Qila Ghanpur fort for trekking, camping and having fun. Tourists have started coming from Hyderabad every day. It is a must visit place.

How are we able to develop fisheries?

We are promoting fish and prawn culture in the district. While we had released 59 lakh fish seed in water bodies last year, this year we were able to release 1.73 lakh fish seed. We have sent people from fishermen community to Saralasagar project to make them aware. We have also setup fish markets in Gopalpet due to the availability of KLI project water there.

This part of the world is known for child marriages and child labour.

Child marriages are high in Atmakur and Amarchinta areas. We were able to stop 49 child marriages last year. Coming Sankranthi marriage season we are prepared with teams of revenue officials and police personnel. But the issue of child marriages needs a change in social thinking. We have also opened seasonal schools for children of migrant workers from Odisha and other areas, who had come here to work in brick-kilns last year. This year too we would do the same. This is a combined effort with NGOs and Education Department.

Having a young woman Collector, what can the women of Wanaparthy expect from you?

Maternal and child welfare are my top priorities. Being a woman, that empathy for women and children will be there.

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