Born on 18th May 1943, Shri. Arun Bongirwar was raised in a middle-class joint family. After doing his Master’s in Mathematics (First Class First) from Nagpur University, he opted for the Civil Services, inspired by his father who was an IAS officer himself. He was selected for the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 1966 and allotted to Maharashtra cadre. His work ethic, commitment to development, efficiency, effectiveness and impartial approach was well known.
The first important posting was that of Chief Executive Officer, Zilla Parishad, Wardha. Those were the days of Family Planning Campaigns. Secretary Health had announced a unique scheme of rewarding districts that gave 10,000 cases in a month. He and his team were successful in the campaign, exceeding the target of 10,000 cases.
To enable oneself to be an effective officer in Mantralaya, thorough knowledge of the procedures at Mantralaya was key. He said, ‘It was the Under Secretaries and Desk Officers who helped in shaping my knowledge of the working and the style of functioning of Mantralaya’.
MSSIDC, the state govt. public undertaking used to work primarily for procurement and distribution of raw material and marketing of handicrafts through emporiums. Through dialogue he found that they were in need of marketing assistance and created need based schemes which helped in the growth of companies like Maharashtra Spun Pipe Manufacturers Association, Lupin Laboratories and Bharti Shipyard.
The district was facing great water scarcity and the Collector was the sole authority for the sanction of temporary water supply schemes and their implementation. He worked hard and with the confidence he generated amongst officers across departments, they could tackle difficulties holistically with a multi-stakeholder approach. Solution suggested helped in implementing the necessary schemes in a speedy manner.
During this period he handled 3 winter sessions of the Maharashtra Legislature successfully and particularly the Janata Darbars. He initiated a proposal for the Raman Science Museum and also the renovation of the Koradi Temple.
One of the most important projects he implemented was the relocation of slum dwellers in Parvati Hill slopes where he chalked out a scheme of constructing 180 Sq. Ft. pucca houses. It was popularly called the Bibwewadi Dhankawadi scheme, and in a record time of 3 years, the scheme was completed and about 5000 slum dwellers shifted from the slopes of Parvati.
During his tenure, he prepared a very strong document called Marathwada 2001, which contained the detailed vision of what Marathwada should be in 15 years.
He undertook improvement of religious temples and provided civic amenities in Pandharpur, Alandi, Jejuri and Panhala. He was also the Chairman of the Committee responsible for the construction of the Balewadi Sports Complex.
He accompanied the Hon. CM during his tour to each and every district in Maharashtra wherein the Hon. CM laid his emphasis on completion of incomplete schemes of irrigation and water supply problems for which he was able to re-appropriate Rs. 300 crores.
Many important decisions of CPZ were taken by him, one of the most important being 24 hours working for Customs.
He drafted the 5-Star industrial scheme for Maharashtra wherein it was proposed that in each revenue division there will be at least 11 industrial estates with infrastructure facilities of 5-star qualities.
He vigorously followed up on 60 schemes specially chosen by the Hon. CM Shri Manohar Joshi. Many projects, including the flyovers in Mumbai and the Mumbai-Pune Express Highway, saw the light of day during this period.
His experience in the Revenue Department enabled him to lead the Bongirwar Committee Report on Revenue Administration. This report was recently implemented by the government.
He continued with his open-door policy and tried to work more as a mentor rather than as the senior-most officer. Various initiatives include initiating Lokshahi Din and Paalak Sachiv roles considering the importance of interacting with people at large, CNG implementation and removing encroachments from Sanjay Gandhi National Park by coordinating with various departments (Police, Forest dept., etc).
As Chairman of JNPT, he pioneered the first privately managed terminal of JNPT.
He formed the Prabhakaran Committee to look into the approach for tariff fixation, which concluded that cost-plus was the only viable method, and that uniform tariff across all ports had no meaning.
As one of the four non-officio Directors to the Board of AAI, India’s largest Airport operator he helped create an ambitious 11th Five Year Plan costing Rs. 12,434 Crore for development and modernization of airport infrastructure in the country. They exercised their powers of autonomy in terms of capital intensive projects, and formed joint ventures with companies to develop Greenfield airports.
With his vast experience and zeal towards public service, Shri Arun Bongirwar contributed in various capacities to different initiatives and committees such as Global Konkan, Vision 2020, Loksatta Movement People Power, Chanakya Mandal, in the Indian renewable energy development agency and many others.