Ms. Sonal Goel,IAS


Interview with Ms Sonal Goel,IAS

Tripura had the opportunity to talk with Ms Sonal Goel,IAS   one of the most dynamic officer of Tripura who is presently working as the District Magistrate and Collector of Tripura and shall be proceeding on deputation shortly to state of Haryana. SONAL GOEL, IAS (2008 Batch, All India 13th Rank, Manipur- Tripura cadre) has been the first lady DM & Collector of Gomati District. She has worked in different parts of Tripura in various official capacities. After her training as Assistant Collector West Tripura District, she had her first independent posting as SDM Ambassa. She had been CEO of AMC and also acted as OSD & ADM South Tripura District and Joint Secretary Labour Department. Her last posting before joining as DM & Collector of Gomati was as the State Project Director, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. In every department where she worked she took some special initiatives which received appreciations from all corners. 

Q. Thank you madam for accepting our invitation to give time for the interview.

Ans: Most Welcome

Q. Tell us something about your first experience in Tripura and your tenure under district training as Assistant Collector West Tripura District?

Ans: I had arrived in Tripura in June 2009; and was given a warm welcome and was comfortable in Circuit house Agartala; though the place is quite different from my native place and where I had lived all throughout my life. Under the able guidance of my DM & Collector Mr. Santanu Das I learnt many aspects of field work. Independent assignments like O/C PNDT, O/C of all major sections in DM office in rotation, Sector Magistrate during panchayat & ADC elections, liaison officer during many high level protocol visits, BDO Dukli & Khowai RD Blocks  gave me an opportunity to gain  experience in local conditions.

Q.Tell us something about your first independent charge as SDM Ambassa at the very beginning of your career.

Ans: Ambassa is the headquarter sub-division of Dhalai district (most backward District of Tripura). The challenges were unique to the sub-division. However first posting is always close to heart since one tries to understand the actual system of working alongwith spirit of implementing the govt  programmes & schemes in best possible manner for benefit of common masses. I received active support & direction of My DM & Collector Mr. Kiran Gitte.  Maldapara was one of the remotest village of sub-division; through regular visits we could mobilize the working the departments like school, AWCs etc. Also Ganganagar Revenue circle had 7 VCs; distantly located from sub-divisional headquarters. It was a challenge to streamline the working of line departments in that area; but we could achieve a lot. Besides I took initiatives in food by constitution of Joint raid teams, in disaster management by modeling the plan of sub-division equivalent to cells in election by involvement of all line deptts.

Q.You have done something unique for the first time in Tripura as an SDM In Ambassa during election. You had the credit of conducting election for the first time with All Women Team. Please share your experience.

Ans: Yes all women polling station was set up during the elections to urban local bodies in Ambassa Nagar Panchayat, in which alongwith lady polling personnel, lady police officials were deployed. It was a step towards women emancipation since in today’s society women can perform any duty at par with male counterpart.

Q.Your stint as CEO of AMC is also remarkable. You are one of the few CEO of AMC who in fact prepared the master plan of the city of Agartala. It was not an easy task. How you have prepared the master plan?

Ans: Working in Municipal council is different from other field postings; especially Agartala being the capital city the focus of state govt is on its development. The process of Master plan was initiated earlier; however the plan was formulated during my tenure; with some areas left out; which must have been included later on. Chairman of AMC- Dr. Prafullajit Sinha was also very positive and supportive

Q. How could you improvise the citizen service delivery & citizen govt relationships?

Ans: Many initiatives were started for improving Public Grievance Redressal system, Vehicle tracking & monitoring system for solid waste management, improving tax collection, and revenue for AMC.

Q. In Education department also you have worked with success. It is one of the most important department of the state.  At the same time it is also one of the most complex departments. Please tell us something about your tenure in the education department.

Ans: My stint as State Project Director, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan was very short. Even then, under the guidance of Dr. K Rajeshwar Rao, Principal Secretary Education deptt; I had tried to focus on reducing the drop out students at elementary level, proper working of schools in tribal areas, proper serving of MDM, teachers & students attendance etc.

Q. You  are working as the District magistrate and Collector of Gomati district since May 2014. Madam, tell us something about the “ Unnatisheel Gomati” vision document of Gomati District.

Ans: ‘Unnatisheel Gomati’ is the vision document launched in September 2014 in the district aiming on convergence between various schemes and departments and different steps to improve the administrative systems and effective service delivery. A 3-page format has been devised which is reviewed monthly and acts as basis for decision making. With inputs and resources from all concerned departments there is creation of visible and durable assets in the district, there is better service delivery and we are able to encourage community participation in development; laying special emphasis on ADC blocks. The focus is on 3 major aspects- rural development related works, health/social welfare/ education emphasis, revenue & e-governance related reforms. The coordination between line departments has improved to a great extent.


Q. After your coming to the district you have done excellent work in the field of social welfare of women and girl children like –BBBP.  Madam, Please tell us in detail about the BBBP initiative of Gomati District under your leadership.

Ans: Gomati District has been included by state govt under Beti Bachao Beti Padhao in May 2015.  Initiatives for ‘Save the girl child’ under PC (PNDT) Act 1994 were continuing, but after BBBP efforts have been more focused towards the cause of saving the girl child & enabling her education. Collective guidelines have been issued and 3 major departments- health, social welfare & education department are the major stakeholders here.

Q. Due to your “Nandini” initiative under BBBP, Gomati District has drawn the attention of the not only Tripura but the whole part of our country. The Ministry of Women and Child Development, Govt of India and state Govt has appreciated your initiative. How do you feel about it ?

Ans: ‘Nandini’ has been focusing on initiatives under BBBP for protection & promotion of welfare of girl child & women in Gomati district. All concerned departments have been requested to contribute through their resources. District administration has operationalised ‘creche’ for children of women employees, ‘Nandini’ park has been dedicated to girl child, ‘Nandini’ awards have been constituted for felicitating Best performing ASHA/ AWWs/ GP/ VC/ girl students/ women sports personnel etc., All women polling stations have been continued to be formed in elections.

Q. Also you have handled VVIP & hi-protocol visits like Hon’ble Prime Minister when he dedicated OTPC Power plant to nation; how did u handle those visits successfully?

Ans: In state like Tripura, such events are micro managed from top level. There was lot of support from the state govt. But as part of administration we had to deal with PSU, SPG and police administration. Leadership and delegation of tasks and proper follow up of the assigned responsibilities was key factor. Also there was good coordination amongst all & the visit was conducted successfully.

Q.Gomati district has received a good number of national awards & recognitions during your stay as a DM and Collector. How many awards you received?

Ans: First of All, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to senior officials of Govt of Tripura; Ex-Chief Secretaries Mr G.K. Rao, Mr SK Panda and present Chief Secretary Mr YP Singh. Also Principal Secretary RD Mr GSG Ayyangar, Principal Secretary Mr Nagraju, Principal Secretary Mr K R Rao,  Secretary Revenue Mr Punit Aggarwal, Principal Secretary Mr. Lok Ranjan ; Principal Secretary Mr L.K Gupta, Mr. Y Kumar and other senior officials of state govt for their support & direction.

Gomati District administration received following recognitions during last one year:-

Felicitation by Deptt of Posts, GOI for achievement under Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana under Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme at NE Region by issue of ‘My Stamp’.

National MGNREGA award from Ministry of Rural development, GOI

Ministry of Women & Child Development, Govt of India has appreciated Gomati District amongst Top five performing districts at National Conference of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao.

‘Nandini’- Initiative for protection & promotion of Girl child/women welfare in Gomati District has been recognized amongst ‘Best Practices’ on Civil Service Day 2016 by State Govt Tripura.

Manthan South Asia ‘District Collector Digital Champion’ Award 2015

National ‘Digital India Week’ Award from Ministry of IT & Communications, GOI

SKOCH National ‘SMART Governance’ Awards

Also Gomati district administration has received support from public representatives and field functionaries at all levels.

Q. Madam, now we will ask you some general questions. How do you feel working in Tripura?

Ans: In last 8 years, Tripura has become like second home for me. I have received very good support and guidance from senior officials and cooperation from my colleagues and field functionaries. Of course there have been some shortcomings as some tasks could not be accomplished as desired; however I have tried my best to do justice to the roles assigned to me. I will always be part of Tripura family and my present departure on deputation shall be for an interval; as I shall return after few years from deputation.

Q. Tell us something you want to share with all about your District.

Ans:Gomati District is a progressive district; with mixed population. During my tenure I have received very good cooperation from line departments and field functionaries and public representatives. The warmth and support given by people of Gomati District has always been instrumental in successful implementation of the govt schemes and programmes. It shall always be close to my heart and I wish Gomati district to be the best in all parameters not only in Tripura but at national level.

Some personal Questions

Q. Besides being so highly professionally qualified and having good career in private sector; why did u choose Civil services?

Ans: I belong to a middle class family hailing from Haryana (Panipat District); engaged in business & accountancy. Despite all societal pressures; my father always supported me for education & encouraged for doing something good for the society. During my graduation days in Sri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University I was pursuing Company Secretary Degree also. However the idea of serving the society was always in my mind. Hence I decided to appear for civil services examination. After completion of CS; during LLb degree from Delhi University I started preparation for civil services and also started working with Hero Honda Group ancillary company as Company Secretary. Alongside I started preparation for civil services examination. Thankfully in second attempt I joined civil services with all India 13th Rank.

Q. What motivates you to do your best work?

Ans: One should enjoy the work he/she is doing. Self motivation is the biggest driving factor in civil services. Also the positive support of seniors/ colleagues/ subordinates professionally is always motivating.

Q. What is your greatest strength?

Ans: I have always believed in 4Ps since my education days- passion, patience, perseverance, positive outlook. I believe these are my strengths driving me always.

Q. What is the most difficult situation you have faced?

Ans: One situation is difficult to be mentioned. There have been few situations where choices had to be made between professional commitments & family obligations. As human beings we can’t avoid certain responsibilities and I feel the family responsibility tends to be more with women. So in such situations I have tried to balance both fronts; with support of state govt Tripura as well as my family; however some failures on my part have been there on both.

Q. What is your advice to young generation?

Ans: There is no shortcut to success. Hard work and faith in one’s capability shall always lead to fulfillment of goals by God’s grace. Young generation should try to contribute towards nation building in whatever fields they choose.

Q. Your advice to our readers.

Ans: Work towards your goals, do service to the society and always shoulder your family responsibilities because family is the one which shall always be with you in all odds.

Q. Thank You madam, for giving your valuable time .We hope you continue to deliver your best and reach the highest rank of your profession.

Ans: Thank you.

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