APCS officers giving back to society

[Bengia Ajum]

Recently, while speaking during the conference of the Arunachal Pradesh Civil Service Officers’ Association in Itanagar, Chief Minister Pema Khandu had said, “It is very disheartening to see some of our APCS officers indulging in corruption.”

Even though the CM’s statement caused heartburn among the APCS officers, there is no denying that some high-profile corruption cases involving APCS officers have hit their image hard.

However, it would be unfair to target all the APCS officers as being corrupt. Many of them are doing truly good work, despite lack of support from the state government.

In the midst of all this, the 2016 batch of APCS officers is giving back to the society by doing inspirational works through a crowdfunding initiative. They are taking up projects, based on needs, through crowdfunding, which made headlines in the national media and was also commended by the chief minister.

The officers’ ‘Project 37’ crowdfunding initiative was started during the first Covid lockdown in 2020. So far, they have funded seven projects across the state.

“We pool a certain amount from our monthly salaries into a common bank account, and the best idea pitched amongst the officers gets funded accordingly. Through this, we intend to lend financial support to the 2016 batch administrative officers posted in remote areas to create micro-infrastructures or back any project that is deemed good by the officers collectively,” said Tarasso CO Rome Mele, one of the members of the 2016 batch.

It was Mele who had first mooted the idea of project 37. “During the Covid lockdown of 2020, with not much work in hand, I thought of starting this. I made a PPT and presented it to my colleagues in our WhatsApp group. Thankfully, everyone supported and that’s how it started,” he said.

Regarding the decision to name the initiative ‘Project 37’, he said, “As 37 circle officers got appointed in 2016, we decided to name it Project 37.”

“Sadly, one of our colleagues, Marngam Bagra, has died since then. We are now 36, but we thought it would be apt to name it ‘Project 37’, since we all started this career together,” said Mele.

The seven projects taken up under ‘Project 37′ include a children’s library in Khimiyang (Changlang), a ring well and water supply project for the primary school in Dissing Passo (Pakke-Kessang); contribution of monetary aid to the fire victims of Longliang village (Longding); renovation of the boys’ hostel in Oyan; construction of a new conference hall in Tarasso CO headquarters; construction of a ‘tourist view point’ at Jengging in Siang district, and a ‘modern learning centre’ in Yazali (Lower Subansiri).

“Three to four proposals are in the pipeline, and we are working on how to roll them out. We will go for 37 projects, and the last one shall be dedicated to our late colleague, Marngam Bagra,” said Mele.

Usually, they pool in Rs 1.5 lakh for one project, and for the remaining amount required for the project, the officer concerned has to raise money through donations in cash and kind from the locals.

“For my Tarasso conference hall, it cost me more than Rs 4.5 lakhs. ZPM to panchayat leaders – everyone contributed some token amounts. Then there were the public who contributed sand gravels, some donated cement bags, and some volunteered to help in the labour work,” informed Mele.

Drawing inspiration from the efforts of the 2016 batch, now the 2020 batch of APCS officers has also started a similar crowdfunding initiative.