V. Shankar Reddy
"We have to work out a plan to eradicate corruption. The process might be slow, but one day I am sure it will go if the plan is implemented properly."
That was the dictum of the Executive Officer of Simhachalam Devasthanam, V. Shankar Reddy, on corruption. "I am aware that by working on these lines, I have earned the wrath of many officials but I stand rooted to my principle and shall not budge to any sort of pressure," says the officer who is regarded as the upright man heading the devasthanam.
Born in an agrarian family in rural Kurnool, he was groomed by his father on the traits of honesty and sincerity. "My father was a true Gandhian. He not only wore khadi till his last day but was also instrumental in developing the village. Being the sarpanch, famous for hard work, dedication and honesty, he could easily start a school, a hospital and a library in that remote village," recalls Shankar Reddy.
After completing his schooling from his native village, he secured a degree in law from Andhra University. Thereafter, he practised as advocate in the High Court for nine years. In 1987 he applied for AP Public Service Commission and topped the Group-I examination.
He joined the service in 1987 in Vemulawada as the Executive Officer of Sri Raja Rajeswari Temple and thereafter in various temples in Hyderabad, Guntur, Tirupati and Srisailam before taking over as EO of Simhachalam in 1997.
"As far as work is concerned throughout my career I believed in certain principles and always implemented them in my work culture. My work design is mainly built around the tenet of honesty. I believe that a leader should be an example for his colleagues.
If the leader is honest and sincere then the other staff is bound to go by that principle."
Shankar Reddy is primarily responsible for the economic turnaround of the hill shrine. "When I took over as the EO, there was hardly a corpus fund. The temple was figuring at the bottom of the list among the temples in AP. Today it has over Rs.30 crores invested in fixed deposits and we are No.2 in the State, next to Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthanam."
According to him, the devasthanam had vast lands under its control prior to Independence. Then with the implementation of the Estate Abolition Act and the Inam Abolition Act, much of its land was sold by fraudsters and realtors, by taking undue advantage of the Acts. "Over 27 villages in and around Visakhapatnam were under the control of the devasthanam, today's value of which would have been over Rs.300 crores. But the interest of the property was not safeguarded and taken care of well. Taking advantage of the situation, middlemen sold most of the land.
"After taking over, the first thing I had done was to define the land under the devasthanam and by regularising the existing land we amassed over Rs.30 crores. We hope to continue the process in the near future also."
Plans in offing
After taking over he built a 24-room choultry, a proper ghat road and a shopping complex. On future plans, he says, "We have plans to build two dormitory type complexes of 100 rooms each and a kalyana mandapam.
Our main aim is to provide accommodation to all types of people right from the poor to the rich. We will be starting free food for all very shortly."
He also has plans to upgrade the parking facility, improve the water supply and drainage system atop the hill and construct parks with religious flavour.
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