“Odisha’s Water Renaissance”

Anu Garg, Additional Chief Secretary and Development Commissioner

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Anu Garg is a senior IAS officer and the current Development Commissioner of Odisha. She is the first woman IAS officer to hold this post. She is also the Additional Chief Secretary of the Planning and Convergence Department and Water Resources Department. She has been serving the Odisha cadre since 1991 and has held various important positions in the state administration.

Under her stewardship, Odisha has been adjudged the second-best state in the country for the outstanding work done in the field of water resources conservation and management.

Recently, Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar presented the second prize to the development commissioner-cum-additional chief secretary of the water resources department Anu Garg at the fourth National Water Awards ceremony in New Delhi.

The water resources department has achieved phenomenal strides in recent years, revolutionizing the sustainable development and management of water resources in the state. This remarkable progress has transformed the lives of over four lakh farmers, ensuring their water security and empowering them to thrive. A staggering 3.2 lakh hectares of additional irrigation facilities have been meticulously created, opening up new avenues of growth and prosperity.

Pioneering two colossal projects, namely the Lower Indra and Upper Indravati lift canals, along with the completion of 61 mega lift irrigation projects (LIPs), 2,833 community LIPs, and a staggering 22,500 deep bore wells, the department has made an unwavering commitment to encompass every nook and corner of the region. Geographical and social inclusiveness is at the forefront of these endeavors, ensuring that no one is left behind.

Addressing long-standing challenges, the department has triumphantly resolved the issues surrounding the Subarnarekha irrigation projects. As a result, an expansive 32,000 hectares of land now basks in the life-giving waters, nurturing crops and fostering prosperity. Furthermore, a revolutionary measure has been taken to boost irrigation efficiency by over 20 percent. This has been achieved through the strategic adoption of underground pipelines in the distribution systems of all categories of irrigation projects, maximizing the utilization of precious water resources.

“For conservation of water resources, 46 in-stream storage structures have been set up in various rivers to conserve 49,650 hectare-metre of water with an investment of Rs 11,700 crore. Besides, the groundwater resources of the state have also increased from 15.57 billion cubic metres in 2017 to 17.79 billion cubic metres in 2022 through various groundwater conservation measures. Large scale micro water conservation activities have also been taken up under the Jal Shakti Abhiyan throughout the state,” said Garg.

Anu Garg is known for her dedication to international development, good citizenship, academic excellence and strong potential to lead and contribute to the field. She was recently awarded the Raymond Vernon Award for Commitment to International Development by Harvard University, where she completed her Master in Public Administration. She also received a certificate of appreciation from the Vice President of India, M. Venkaiah Naidu, for her outstanding contribution to the water sector in Odisha.

Some of her notable achievements across her bureaucratic career are:

§ She promoted the Youth4Water Innovation Awards, a platform for young innovators to showcase their solutions for water conservation, sanitation and climate change⁵.

§ She spearheaded the Labour & ESI Department as the Principal Secretary and implemented several welfare schemes for workers and migrants during the Covid-19 pandemic.

§ She led the Women & Child Development & Mission Shakti Department as the Principal Secretary and launched various initiatives for women empowerment, child protection and nutrition.

§ She served as the Collector and District Magistrate of Cuttack and Khurda districts and implemented several development projects and disaster management plans.

Anu Garg is an inspiration for many young IAS officers and aspiring civil servants. She is a role model for women leadership and social service. Her dedication and perseverance is like a lighthouse beacon, providing direction and light to those looking for a similar path.

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