Mangaluru: She Came, She Saw…but She couldn’t conquer the hearts of many more Mangaloreans, for the reason- just after five months of posting, the State government recently transferred this Smart, Strict, Educated, Adept,Talented, Dedicated, Committed, Transparent, Knowledgeable, Positive, Proven, more Focused than her predecessors- Commissioner of the Mangaluru City Corporation Hephsiba Rani Korlapati, IAS, as the Chief Executive Officer of Vijayapura Zilla Panchayat. No doubt that good and concerned citizens of Mangaluru had full hopes in this young 27-year-old lady Commissioner that the City would progress and develop during her tenure, and that many things would be accomplished under her leadership, some which no MCC officer would realistically ever be able to deliver- but all their hopes went in vain, due to the unexpected transfer of Hephsiba R Korlapati.
She was one among 14 officers, including 12 IAS officers, transferred in the State on June 12, 2015. Rumours were in the air that Commissioner Korlapati and the ruling Congress councillors/Corporators were reportedly not getting along with the latter accusing her of not respecting them, being very strict and not initiating development projects. But she has denied the charges. It was also reported earlier that when CM Siddaramaiah had come down to Mangaluru, few corporators/councillors had complained to him about Korlapati’s attitude towards them. But CM had clarified that it was some misunderstanding between the Mayor and the Commissioner and that it would be sorted out. Later, the councillors had complained about Korlapati to Ministers Vinay Kumar Sorake, Ramanath Rai and MLA J R Lobo in the presence of the commissioner at the corporation.
In the meantime senior Congress leader B Janardhana Poojary speaking to reporters had openly supported the commissioner stating that she was a good officer and attempts were being made to shift her without a valid reason. It was also reported that Congress councillors were in for a shock recently when the commissioner did not sit through the “development cell” meeting reportedly stating that The Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976, did not permit constituting such a cell. Many other allegations were made against Hephsiba by the councillors, for which the commissioner had said were baseless, stating that she was running the administration as per the rules and regulations, and not according to orders/suggestions thrown at her by her colleagues. When I asked her as to whether it was fair on the part of government to transfer her within such a short time in the office, for which she was reluctant to give an suitable answer, instead said, it was government’s decision and I will have to accept it. But for what ever reasons she has been transferred, citizens still feel that politics and efforts by corrupt minded councillors had played an major role in her transfer from here.
Catching up with Hephsiba R Korlapati few hours before she was to exit from her Commissioner’s cabin for good, I had a long conversation with her and clarified on few issues that were slapped on her by the councillors, so that I could incorporate them in this exclusive report for the kind perusal of the citizens and readers of mangalorean.com. She was friendly, quite knowledgeable with the answers to my queries. She was a open-minded person and expressed her feelings and thoughts right from her heart, without hiding anything. I could figure out that she is a person that never hesitates in publicly exposing those people who are not doing justice to their jobs. And I also know that her courageous nature, dedicated and honesty has been appreciated by many citizens and has made her one of the most commendable officers this City has seen.
The service done by this young commissioner during such a short period in the office, will inspire us every single day and help us believe that there is good in the world. Her ideas and efforts have revamped and improved Mangaluru’s image on most of the projects undertaken and supervised by her. No doubt, she did her best as much she could, to bring a proper system in MCC, weed out corruption in MCC, undertake development work through proper channels and systematically, implement some manners and rules in the administration etc- but if we all stand together,it has infinite potential to wipe out all evil- and that’s for sure.
A true commissioner is one who takes the City where it needs to go, not just where it wants to go. Korlapati was the right person that citizens of Mangaluru needed at MCC since decades. Korlapati’s qualities and characters had made her a wonderful person – Simple, Dignified, Courteous, Friendly and much more. The job of a commissioner is one that citizens look to for growth, development, strength, leadership and larger-than-life personalities- and for that matter Hephsiba had all those qualities, plus she was dedicated, strict, knowledgeable, experienced, positive, progressive and proven.
A 2011-cadre IAS officer, Hephsiba R Korlapati took charge as the commissioner on January 1, 2015. She had her early schooling in SDA Higher Secondary School-Nuzvid in Andhra Pradesh- later she did her BA at Osmania University College for Women-Hyderabad-AP; did her MA in Geography at Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi-Delhi; did her MA in Public Policy at Indira Gandhi National Open University-New Delhi. Later she joined All India Service as an IAS Officer in August 2011-achieved All India Rank-20 in General Merit in civil services Exam-2010. She successfully completed training as an IAS Officer Trainee from Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration-Mussoorie.
Korlapati joined as a Research Scholar in Dept. of Humanities and Social Sciences in IIT-Delhi in 2011; cleared UGC-NET with JRF i 2010 in first attempt in Geography; topped Dissertation paper and the Final Semester in MA Programme; Ranked 4th in the entrance Examination for Masters Programme in Geography; also topped the list of University of Hyderabad for Political Science project; Topped Osmania University in Graduation, in all three Courses and General English, consecutively during the three academic years 2004-2007 and received rolling shields and medals from Vice Chancellor of Osmania University.
Hephsiba has received the Kalpana Chawla Memorial Award in 2005 for the best presentation at the International Geography Workshop organized by NRSA-Hyderabad; Received Pratibha Puraskar Award from Govt. of Andhra Pradesh in 2004 for standing 1st at All India Level in Class XII Examinations; Stood 1st at all India Level in AAT Examination for Geography with a record percentile 99% consecutively for two years (2003/2004). Her hobbies include Home-making, Editing Documents, watching Tennis, Playing Badminton and Blogging.
Following are the excerpts from the exclusive interview:
Q: What do you have to say about allegations made on you that you never respected senior councillors and that councillors had to get prior permission to enter your cabin to meet you?
A: After I took charge as the commissioner of the Mangalore City Corporation, the councillors and others barged into to my cabin. When I was in a meeting, they did not even bother to take permission to get inside my cabin. Altogether people barged into my room one after another, while I was in a meeting. For three months I just tolerated the attitude of the staff in MCC. Later I issued a show cause notice. Even after issuing notice nobody took any appointment to meet me. There was no slip system to meet me, but I tried my best to bring discipline among the council members. Sometimes I have officers come from outside the district for meetings, and while I am discussing some important issues with them, staff/people simply walk into my office, thereby creating distractions. There should be a system, there should be some discipline.
When someone comes with complaints or important issues there should not be any interruption. When I discuss important issues with people who come to meet me, I need to gather some information,-but on one particular day when I was with a person listening to his problems, four persons entered my cabin one after another, and interrupted the conversation. This kind of attitude I have been bearing for nearly three and half months. But gradually this kind of manners slowly stopped. For me, ultimately sitting in the office was meant for interacting with public, listening to their grievances etc and also doing my duties as a officer. Wastage of time is wastage of public time-so I was using public time very effectively.
Respecting Senior councillors, we are in a country where all are treated equally. I have treated all councillors/corporators equally, without any discrimination. The way they have made a big issue of this is not a good thing and I am not happy with that.
Q: What do you have to say about the controversy by reportedly refusing to enter the Safai Karmacharis quarters in Jeppu Mahakalipadpu?
A: These allegations are baseless. I was very much there early in the morning of 2 January to meet the Safai Karmacharis, out of my schedule. While I was there I stepped aside to attend an important phone call while the programme was going on, and many councillors asked many questions for attending the call. I was questioned like- whom I was talking to? Why did I answer a personal call? and many more cross questions. There was no need for these people to question me on a simple matter. By the time I came back from attending the call, the meeting had ended. The issue was blown out of proportion. When we visit anyone or any organization the visit should be productive, it is not like bumping for sometime and going out.
Few days later, I did visit the SK quarters and spent some time with the kids and family members of Karmacharis, and I even had food with them. While I was there I noticed that the condition of the families was poor, so I took the initiative to upgrade the living condition of these Karmacharis.
Q: There were some complaints made against you by the Councillors and opposite party members for the slow development work, after you took charge as MCC Commissioner- what’s your answer ?
A: First of all people are free to define the word development, the word is described in various ways. I did my research on development while I was doing my masters program. For me development is not only concreting the roads, drains or footpaths but for me development is doing the right way, with proper documents, proper plans, basic steps, etc. I am not going to rush in development work without proper inspection and proper guidelines followed. I don’t want to pay the bills for a work not done according to standards and quality- It’s tax payers money, which I need to spend on projects wisely. No holistic, no proper plans were followed before I took more interest in most of the projects.
I don’t believe in table top exercises/decisions, but through field survey – also I don’t practice in paying for the work done only through pen and paper exercise, which was being done before I took charge. In my five months of tenure I have done my duties well and everything was fruitful. When a road concrete work was going on, I was in the spot early in the morning to finalize the marking of the roads, and not visit the spot and come back. For the concreting work there is a minimum curing period, do we need to compromise on that and rush to complete the work. I have followed the rules and done my job the right way.
For me development is a term of very wider sense-it has economic, cultural, and gender aspects. When MCC co-operated and made Federation Athletic Cup 2015 a success, we expected development; When we observed Ambedkar Jayanti for the very first time in the history of MCC, we expected social development;- every attempt to do the work efficiently and deliver the duties from the office is a positive step in path of development. We should all know that improvement of system in public office is not contradictory to any ideas of development.
We attempted to understand and analyze the sources for revenue generations and prudent expenditures of the public money for the overall development of the City, most judicially. We proposed increase hike in advertisement tax, which is record low compare to minimum taxes suggested by the state government. We tried to increase fee on markets, ground public spaces-the matter was discussed with tax financial committee chairman and Mayor-at the beginning they seemed to have agreed on that, but during decision making they backed away.
To name a few projects that I had undertaken are- The malaria software rolled out in association with Mangalore Relief Society, which is undergoing field trials; management of solid waste under the three-package system including door-to-door collection of waste, which is going on well (regarding lowering the fees collected now for garbage hauling is being discussed); streamlining procedures to attend to pre-monsoon works, and many drainage works have been completed well before it starts to rain incessantly.
The allegation that development works have stopped is baseless, – utmost care has been taken to ensure that works were undertaken and completed in all wards. When we prepare the budget, during the preparation we need to include the all round development work in it. It is the fiscal development. I in fact wanted both physical and fiscal development. When we try to execute work properly we are not compromising on quality. We want quality and quantity. I am confident that I have done my duties in the right directions in regards to developmental works. Financial discipline is must and it should be at high priority. Work should be done at the mark. Period.
Q: There is some controversy about some huge expenses borne during the visit of Smart City team when they had come to Mangaluru-Can you please clarify on this issue?
A: Smart City project announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a very fruitful scheme. We can get good funds under the Smart City scheme for development schemes. Mangaluru was one among the six cities selected for the survey by the team- during the survey except for the population figures, the corporation met all other parameters such as transport, health-care and solid waste management to be part of the Smart City scheme. Smart City is the one that has good infrastructure — water, clean air, power supply and health-care — which will attract investments. The Union government has planned to develop 100 smart cities in the country. It will be good for this city on a long run, for almost 15 -20 years.
A team of three researchers, namely Alex, Randy and Shruthi of Bloomberg Philanthropies, a charitable organisation had visited Mangaluru City Corporation as a part of their work of selecting cities for Smart City project of the Central government. They wanted to learn more about the city to submit a report to the Prime Minister and in the process it would help in knowledge sharing. We facilitated their visit, and whatever contribution we have made through the visit through the interaction with the team is of direct contribution to the entire nation urban development planning for the next decades. Because of the very good interaction, critical issues were discussed in details- inputs from Mangaluru have been of crucial importance for the team to submit their final records to the Honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Meetings and discussions were arranged with the Smart City team members between MCC officers, media persons and general public- and the proceedings and results were very effective.
Regarding the expenses for the boarding and lodging of the team members which was raised by a councillor has been clarified and the issue has been settled. The expenses were meagre, and these are the basic expenses incurred whenever delegates from abroad make a visit. As per the direction from the Secretary of Urban Development I had arranged their visit, and we provided them the best hospitality from our side.
Q: What do you have to say about Mangaluru and Mangaloreans during your short tenure in office as their beloved MCC Commissioner?
A: Mangalureans are very vigilant people, very educative and smart- I appreciated the diversity here. Although I had worked in Mandya/Bidar I can say that Mangaluru is a very diverse place. I have brilliant characteristics of this place-people are friendly, pro-active, people are ready to share ideas and work with you, they come up with suggestions for projects when I visit the site, very co-operative folks- I had a good stint in Mangaluru for the last 6 months, met new people and made new friends. Many elderly people had accepted me as their “daughter” , and some have even adopted me as their own child- that’s what I cherish a lot being here. I only wanted to get closely associated with them, so that their help and support would benefit in the growth and development of the city.
While I was serving as commissioner here I perceived respect and huge expectations from the public. I tried my level best to make my administration sensible for the people. So that when people come with their problems they can have a proper solution for it. I am sorry for some folks who didn’t like the way I was running the administration and carrying on with my duties. While I am leaving this office here at MCC, I am going without any ill-feelings towards anyone nor with any anger or hate. I will still cherish my 5-6 months stay in Mangalore with good and friendly Mangalureans, and my official tenure as Commissioner among my colleagues at MCC. Whoever is going to take up the Commissioner post at MCC should be more capable than me- I wish the in-coming commissioner all success-Mangaluru is a beautiful and growing city which needs a good officer to take it to greater heights with work done with honesty and dedication, and keeping corruption away. Thank You all for being good to me during my memorable and fruitful time in this Education Hub and picturesque coastal town.
Team Mangalorean wishes Hephsiba Rani Koralapati all success in her new endeavour. May God bless her.
Following are a few words of wisdom spoken on commissioner Hephsiba, by some of her fans who appreciated her dedication, transparency and strictness, and her efforts to make MCC a corrupt free administration:
From Casmir D’Souza, Rtd Sr Executive Govt of India and Vice President, PUCL
Transfer of Hepsiba Rani Korlapati in less than six months after taking charge as the Commissioner of MCC is a clear sign that the city is going the Uttar Pradesh way. It is unfortunate that the residents of a city that has commendable number of well-educated, civilized citizens are deprived of good governance. The beautiful city that has given top class personalities to the world has been reduced a city of anarchy. Anyone who has heard the allegations levelled against her knows how childish they are. However, she has given fitting reply to all the allegations levelled against her. Those accusing her may not accept her replies but we the citizens of Mangaluru know the truth.
It is an open secret that the elected representatives of MCC along with the government servants and builders had formed an ‘Evil Triangle’ shooting corruption through the roof. Korlapati had stopped them in the middle of the track, which was difficult for them to digest. After all, in our patriarchal society would the ‘Evil Triangle’ packed with males ever tolerate a woman less than half their age question their motives? Certainly not! While the transfer raises many questions in the minds of the citizens, the justification given by the District Minister In-charge that the transfer has been done to ‘make the functioning of the city corporation more efficient’ is nothing more than a joke. Would transferring an efficient public servant make work efficient? Only he can explain.
As a responsible citizen of this country I have supported her for all her good deeds and will keep supporting such administrators till my last breath. I wish her good luck and public support wherever she goes. Sadly, it is the citizens of Mangaluru that have lost the battle. May God bless Hephsiba Rani Korlapati!
From Melroy C.F.Fernandes- a Social Worker and a Concerned Citizen
While Korlapatti may have failed to teach the recalcitrant and incorrigible MCC staff and corporators a lesson in discipline, ethics and time-management. Yet, she leaves with her head held high( perhaps to another place where the people are more deserving?). The majority of Mangaloreans will have to hang their head down in shame, yet again, for letting a group of bullies torment a lady who had almost no support apart from the strength of her conviction to do her job honestly!
I’d like to ask team Mangalorean, which is spearheading journalistic activism in Mangalore, to hold opinion-polls, annually or half-yearly, on the performance of each and every elected representative of the district and publicise them.
Also, upright and honest officials, heading their respective departments, need to fully implement and faithfully update the sec 4 suo-moto disclosures under the RTI Act 2005. This transparency drive will ensure that every activity and operation manual of the public authority is in the public domain and nobody politician will then be able to besmirch an honest official.
From Ramesh S Srinivasan– a Social Activist
While I was looking forward for a corrupt free administration under the leadership of Commissioner Hephsiba Rani Korlapati, but sad to note that her tenure ended soon even before few good and fair changes could take place at MCC, and one among them is to eradicate bribe/corruption. CORRUPTION- which has now been the most interesting topic in media-news. Its not OK just to sit in front of tv and enjoy watching news showing how much corrupt our govt-private sectors are, we should not only waste our time in blaming them but know that each and every common man is also equally involved in it. Maybe we can’t prevent it to happen but take some steps to control it. In order to do this, the younger generation which is the future should be taught about the VALUES and IMPORTANCE of each and every field, about the country etc which helps them get inspired and dis-encourage them in future to get involved in it. Hope to see a not just a developed but also a corruption free India ! Let’s hope for a good commissioner who will discharge his/her duties as per the laws and regulations needed to run a clean free administration. May God bless this young commissioner, who will be missed by many citizens.
From Joe D’Souza- NRE and Activist
It’s indeed a sad news for the citizens of Mangaluru that a good, honest, hard working (working for nearly 14 hrs a day), transparent and dedicated Commissioner Hephsiba Korlapati is being transferred just because she was doing a good job as per the rules, which I guess some corrupt folks who were looking to make an extra buck had played the tricks to kick her out, so that they can fill their pockets. I remember the time that I spend with this commissioner many times in her office, when I went there to submit complaints/photos relevant to some civic problems in the City- and she was very keen in solving these problems for the betterment of the society and city. I know she wanted to run a corrupt free administration, which I think landed her into trouble by some corrupt minded people who wanted her out of here. We will all miss this straight forward commissioner.
Corruption is one of the deadly, undesirable and wicked sins that has been imposed on the innocent man by some hungry looking monsters. It is omnipresent, almost like a distorted, antithetical version of God for the present times. It doesn’t sound euphonious when we hear that it has not only led to the malfunctioning of the administrative system and poor law and order, but also some serious causes like poverty and red tapism, which has led to the society’s disability. It has distorted all values and made mincemeat of morality, truth and virtue. It has entered into every single aspect of our lives becoming all-pervasive just similar to the air we breathe. It is growing massively in huge proportions and there is barely any sphere of social, political, economic and even religious activity that is free from graft, fraud and corruption of some kind.
In my perspective, the corruption is caused by both the giver and the taker. It should be taken as the crime for shortcuts of the processes because many times we people pay bribes to make our jobs done early. If common people stop paying bribes the corruption will automatically eliminated. So instead of blaming each other we need to change ourselves and ensure that we should not get involved in this social evil. Let’s all work to weed out corruption/bribery at MCC and other government offices- In my concern, wherever we go corruption is there. If we take any organisation, government jobs whatever first they think how to satisfies their individuals needs so that they want to go in a wrong way. They not only corrupt the organisation they corrupt also the India’s growth, and for that matter, even Mangaluru. Let’s get united and end corruption-together we can make a difference. Thank You!
- Mangaluru: Hephsiba Rani A Failure as Commissioner of MCC – Shashidhar Hegde
- Mangaluru: Upon Transfer to Vijayapura, MCC Commissioner Hephsiba Hands over Charge
- With Transfer of a Strict Commissioner, Will MCC Once Again Become ‘M-angaluru C-orrupt C-entre’?
- Mangaluru: Was Poojary Sleeping When Hephsiba was Transferred? Monappa Bhandary
- Mangaluru: Appointed Officers Should Work for the Development of the City – Ramanath Rai
- Mangaluru: She’s the Best! PUCL wants MCC Commissioner Korlapati to Stay for Full Term
- Let’s Support Honest Govt Officers-One Among Them is MCC Commissioner HR Korlapati
- Mangaluru: Efforts by Some Councillors to Transfer MCC Commissioner Hephsiba Rani Pay off