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Woman dalit sarpanch begs for a living in Chief Minister’s home district

Incidentally, Hema Nayak (60) was elected unopposed as sarpanch of the reserved (SC) Badapalli gram panchayat under Khallikote block of the district in 2017. If reports are to be believed, she visits the panchayat office on compulsion.

SNS | Bhubaneshwar |

At a time when the government talks of women empowerment at the grassroots, a woman Dalit Sarpanch in Odisha’s Ganjam district, the home turf of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, begs and lives on the charity of others instead of being involved in the decision making in the Panchayati Raj institution.

Incidentally, Hema Nayak (60) was elected unopposed as sarpanch of the reserved (SC) Badapalli gram panchayat under the Khallikote block of the district in 2017. If reports are to be believed, she visits the panchayat office on compulsion. Recently, she was spotted with Khallikote MLA, Suryamani Baidya, during the distribution of Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojna (BSKY) health smart card distribution under compelling circumstances. Otherwise, her daily ritual is to seek alms.

The block-level administration however apparently feigned ignorance of the misery of the woman Sarpanch.

“As an elected Sarpanch, Nayak is getting a monthly honorarium of Rs 2,350 as per the Odisha Gram Panchayat act provisions. The Nayak’s husband is a beneficiary of the government’s old-age pension scheme. Besides, a pucca house has been allotted to the family under Indira Awas Yojana scheme”, said Khallikote Block Development Officer, Mitali Patra.

Therefore reports of the Sarpanch begging on the streets for survival are difficult to believe. However, the matter is being inquired into. If veracity is found in the reports, she will be extended additional gratuitous relief under the social security schemes, she added.