The summer of 2016 will forever be etched in the minds of the people in Bidar, as the district grappled with one of the worst droughts to hit the region in decades.
Nor will they forget Anurag Tewari, the IAS officer whose active involvement towards tackling the drought within a short span of 18 months helped the common people survive the summer.
Apart from kickstarting the revival of Surang Bavi, a centuries-old underground aqueduct, Anurag helped complete the cleaning and dredging of over 130 tanks and 110 open wells across the district, within a span of few months.
This action proved vital for Bidar. As the the next spell of rains exceeded the average rainfall rate by 40 per cent, these traditional water bodies were filled with water.
Karnataka cadre officer Anurag Tewari. Source: Facebook
The historical Jahaj ki Bawdi, a well belonging to the medieval era, had almost dried up and turned into an active site of piled-up garbage. Led by Anurag’s directive, which included the removal of close to 80 ft garbage from the well, the 500-year old water source is now able to provide drinking water to several households in the old city.
In fact, Anurag’s initiative had also inspired the state government scheme of cleaning tanks, “Kere Sanjeevini”.
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With plans of harnessing the district’s tourism potential, the Karnataka cadre officer assisted in developing tourist circuits in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region and equipping Bidar fort with audio-visual guides.
He also played a role in initiating reforms that included full computerization of all urban local bodies and district magistrate court.
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The 36-year-old IAS officer, who came to be known as Bidar’s water man, was found dead, reportedly from asphyxiation, near a guesthouse in Lucknow on May 17.
“It is hard to believe that he is no more. It feels as if we have lost a family member,” Vinay Malge, convenor of Team Yuvaa, the NGO that worked with Anurag in the cleaning up tanks and Surang Bavi, told The Hindu.
An officer like Anurag should be remembered not only by the people of Bidar, but the entire nation. May you be the source of inspiration for scores of youngsters wanting to be part of the civil services and serve the country.
Rest in peace, Anurag Tewari.