Speaking at the Arunachal Pradesh Civil Service Officers Association conference in Itanagar recently, Chief Minister Pema Khandu said: “It is very disheartening to see some of our APCS officers engage in corruption.
Even though the CM’s statement caused heartburn among 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 APCS agents as corrupt. Many of them are doing a really good job, despite the lack of support from the state government.
Amidst it all, the 2016 batch of APCS officers are giving back to society by carrying out inspiring work through a crowdfunding initiative. They undertake projects, as needed, through crowdfunding, which has made national media headlines and has also been praised by the Chief Minister.
The officers’ “Project 37” crowdfunding initiative was launched during the first Covid lockdown in 2020. So far, they’ve funded seven projects across the state.
“We pool a certain amount of our monthly salaries into a common bank account, and the best idea thrown around among the officers is funded accordingly. Through this, we intend to provide financial support for the 2016 batch of administrative officers stationed in remote areas to create micro-infrastructure or support any project deemed good by the officers collectively,” said Tarasso CO Rome Mele, one of the members of the Lot 2016.
It was Mele who first came up with the idea for Project 37. “During the 2020 Covid lockdown, with little work going on, I thought about starting this. I made a PPT and presented it to my colleagues in our WhatsApp group. Luckily everyone supported and that’s how it all started,” he said.
Regarding the decision to name the initiative “Project 37”, he said: “While 37 circle officers were appointed in 2016, we have decided to call it Project 37”.
“Unfortunately, one of our colleagues, Marngam Bagra, has since passed away. We are now 36, but we thought it would be appropriate to call it ‘Project 37’, since we all started this career together,” Mele said.
The seven projects included in “Project 37” include a children’s library in Khimiyang (Changlang), a circular well and a water supply project for the primary school in Dissing Passo (Pakke-Kessang); contribution of monetary aid to disaster victims in the village of Longliang (Longding); renovation of the boys’ home in Oyan; construction of a new conference room at the headquarters of Tarasso CO; construction of a “tourist viewpoint” at Jengging in Siang district and a “modern learning center” at Yazali (Lower Subansiri).
“Three to four proposals are in the works and we are working on how to roll them out. We will go for 37 projects, and the last one will be dedicated to our late colleague, Marngam Bagra,” Mele said.
Usually, they pool Rs 1.5 lakh for a project, and for the remaining amount required for the project, the concerned officer has to fundraise through cash and in-kind donations from the locals.
“For my Tarasso conference room, it cost me more than Rs 4.5 lakhs. ZPM to panchayat leaders – everyone contributed token amounts. Then there was the public who provided sand gravels, some donated bags of cement and some volunteered to help with the work,” Mele said.
Building on the efforts of the 2016 batch, the 2020 batch of APCS officers has also launched a similar crowdfunding initiative.