District magistrate N. Saravana Kumar took just 20 minutes to set his priorities at his first janata durbar on Thursday and made it clear that he meant business and would not tolerate any indiscipline.
Saravana took an officer to task for reporting late.
Known for executing projects within given timeframes, the 2000-batch IAS officer reached the durbar at 10.30am sharp and observed the setting of the collectorate office.
As soon as the DM occupied the chair, complainants started entering the room. Earlier, a peon used to stand at the entrance of the official chamber to let complainants in one at a time. Complainants then would submit their applications to the DM. But it was a changed scenario on Thursday.
The DM asked: "How many peons are there over here?"
One of the peons replied: "Sir, three."
Kumar said: "Okay, I want one near my table to ensure that the complainant stands in a proper way and does not lean on the table." He enquired: "Do we have women peons too?"
Another peon said: "Yes sir, we do."
Kumar replied: "Okay, tell one to co-operate with women complainants here."
Amid the conversation, public grievances cell officer D. Shao entered the room all of a sudden. It was 10.50am.
Asked to introduce himself, Shao said: "Sir, I am the public grievances cell officer of the DM's office."
Kumar said: "Okay, but why did you come late today (Thursday)?" He replied: "Sir, my vehicle developed a snag."
The DM asked: "Did you inform anybody in the office that you would be late?"
Shao feebly pointed at a junior officer and said: "Sir, sir, I called him."
The junior officer said: "Sir, he (Shao) informed me."
Kumar sized up the latecomer and said: "Whatever, you are supposed to reach before me and make arrangements here. Now onwards, you better be on time."
Shao quietly settled in his chair.
The DM handled another sensitive issue deftly. When Sarojani Kumari, 20, who attempted suicide in front of chief minister Nitish Kumar recently, turned up and claimed that she had not received anything, Kumar asked her to occupy a chair. The DM said: "I know you very well and your problems. You kindly occupy the chair and we will listen to you properly." Then Kumar directed a lady officer to list the benefits Sarojani gets from the district administration.
Asked about his first-day experience and difference from other districts, the DM told The Telegraph: "I am just doing the government's work."