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Meet IAS Sonal Goel, the officer credited for transforming lives in Tripura

Sonal Goel’s journey is a testimony of a fierce female IAS officer of the Tripura-Manipur cadre who defied all odds to leave a lasting impact on the society as well as her fraternity.

Edited By : Mayank Kasyap | Updated: Jul 14, 2023 19:32 IST
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IAS Sonal Goel
IAS Sonal Goel (Photo Credit: News 24)

Dhalai: To some, it may sound hyperbole but for many it’s an inspiring tale of a middle class girl who achieved greater heights in her career through her sheer hard work and dedication. She became a company secretary and then left it to follow her calling to become an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer.

Sonal started her IAS journey in June 2009 as Assistant Collector, West Tripura District. She then got posted as SDM Ambassa in the Dhalai district, one of the most backward districts in Tripura.

It was her first independent charge hence she decided to do extensive field visits to grassroot locations to get herself familiarize with the area, its people, culture and uncover key issues and problems.

During one such field trip as SDM Ambassa, Sonal visited Maldapara- one of the remotest villages of the area. The village lacked proper road connectivity and she had to walk over 7 kms. to reach the village, only to witness the sorry state of affairs, first hand.

She found pregnant women with iron deficiency, malnourished children, elderly folks suffering from mild to severe diseases. The distressing conditions of villagers almost broke Sonal into tears but she somehow collected herself and enquired for reasons behind such a poor state of villagers.

She was then told that the deplorable condition of the road prevented government employees, including teachers, Anganwadi workers, and primary healthcare personnel from reaching their workplaces. Walking long distances of 7-8 kms. every day in those difficult terrains was simply impractical.

The lack of access to primary healthcare workers and Anganwadi workers meant that these vulnerable individuals were deprived of essential care, medication, and support. Witnessing their suffering took an emotional toll on Sonal, fuelling her determination to find solutions and alleviate their plight.

Though initiated the process to restore road connectivity, Sonal was aware that it is a long shot, and the villagers couldn’t wait for relief. She kept looking for what more could be done. It was during this time that she noticed the presence of Border Security Force (BSF) establishments near these affected villages.

Realizing the potential for a temporary solution, she approached BSF officials and sought their support. To her delight, the BSF agreed to provide temporary accommodation to the government servants in their camps, allowing them to discharge their duties during weekdays while returning home to their families on weekends. This innovative step by Sonal ensured that the employees resumed their work, enabling the villagers to benefit from the much-needed essential services.

IAS Sonal Goel

IAS Sonal Goel

Inspired by the success of this approach, Sonal replicated the model in seven additional village committees, gaining the support and appreciation of both the employees and the villagers. The impact of her initiatives was far-reaching, as many villagers voluntarily stepped forward to offer their assistance to these government servants in various capacities.

The strategic decision to seek support from the Border Security Force, given its significant presence in Tripura, proved to be a masterstroke. Through this one move, Sonal Goel facilitated positive transformations in numerous villages, where government employees resumed their work, and the communities experienced progress and improved access to essential services.

Currently serving as Resident Commissioner, Tripura Bhawan, New Delhi, IAS Sonal Goel’s journey serves as an inspiration for aspiring civil servants, highlighting the transformative power of committed leadership.

First published on: Jul 14, 2023 05:47 PM IST

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