Don't dial DDA, the publicity director is on holiday

Wait for a fortnight if you need any information


Danish Raza | July 15, 2010

Delhi Development Authority is not the most accessible civic agency even at the best of times. But a recent visit to the DDA office made me realise why it may well be the worst agency when it comes to sharing information with the media.

All I wanted was details of ongoing projects in various parts of the city. So I called up Neemo Dhar, director, publicity. She would direct me to the engineers concerned, I imagined. But her mobile phone was switched off.

When I couldn’t get through to Dhar the entire day, I landed at Vikas Sadan, the DDA office the next day, only to find that she was away on holiday to the USA and would be back a fortnight later.

Oh, well, just my luck, I thought, but no problem, I would meet her deputy instead.

And so I did. Deputy director R C Sharma came across as an affable sort of person. Very, in fact a little too soft-spoken to be audible at times. But he knew his job all right. That much I gathered.

See if you pick anything else from our conversation.

“Sir,” I began, “I got to know that Miss Neemo Dhar is not here. I was wondering if you could tell me about the ongoing projects and the officials supervising these projects. There is this in-situ project under which….”

 Sharma understood my query before I had quite finished. It takes a certain seniority to reach this level of anticipation. “See, I am sorry but Madam is not here and I cannot give you any details in her absence.” Here was one deputy who knew his place well.

“Oh…Sir, I thought you are her deputy…so, you would know…,” being a journalist I just had to persist.

 “Yes, but actually there are only two people authorised to give statements to the media. Neemo Dhar or our Vice- Chairman. Nobody else,” he said, sharing some valuable information in the process. 

 “But Sir, I am not asking for any statement. I just want to know who are the right persons to speak to about these projects,” I stood my ground even as I dispelled his fears, “I will follow up with the officers concerned and not bother you any more.”

“I know,” said Sharma, unmoved and suddenly seemingly immovable, “But the thing is that either Miss Dhar talks to the media or the Vice- Chairman.”

 “Sir, I don’t think this is something for which I should bother the Vice-Chairman…That’s why I thought maybe if you could suggest how to go about it,” I said, going for the direct personal appeal.

Sharma seemed to relent too. “I understand,” he said, but only before adding, “But…actually…I cannot do much as I am not allowed to talk to the media.”

 “Sir, she will be back only after 15 days. I have a deadline to follow, Sir,” I said, positively pleading by now.

“Hmm,” came a whisper, “I think it’s better if you talk to her only.”

 “Sir, isn’t there anybody from the publicity department, your department, who can talk to media in Neemo Dhar’s absence?” I asked, signalling willingness to engage till kingdom come.

Sharma grinned in response, “Actually, she only talks.”

“But if there is any development…anything happens…then who deals with the press?” the journalist in me asked.

“You are right,” Sharma again agreed with me, “But then, Neemo Dhar is the right person for this.”

 “Sir, I do not intend to do any negative story. I just want to report on the progress of these projects. It is a positive story,” I said, firing my very last salvo.

“I understand, but I am not authorised to talk to the media,” Sharma said, using much the same defence.

“OK, Sir, thank you so much for your time,” I said, parting on a perfectly civil note.



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