Nayagarh: She is a public representative (panchayat member). Yet, the benefits of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Indira Awas Yojana, Biju Pucca Ghar Yojana or any other schemes elude her.
As a result, her family has been residing in a toilet, not for a month or a year, but for long two and a half years.
If this is the case with a panchayat member, the common villagers’ difficulties can well be imagined.
Banita Senapati, the ex-ward member, resides with her family at Thanapallipatna village of Surkabadi panchayat under Ranpur block in Nayagarh district. Her family comprises of her husband Ramesh Senapati, her mother-in-law and two children – a son and a daughter.
A daily labourer, Ramesh says his house had been partially damaged during Cyclone Phailin. “We had been somehow managing with it. But two and a half years ago, the house got damaged completely, forcing us to live in the toilet, constructed under Swachh Bharat Mission,” he narrates.
Banita, who was sitting beside her husband, said, “My husband ran pillar to post to get a house under any awas yojanas, but we were perhaps not fortunate enough. He met officials starting from block development officers to the collector, but got no joy. Now we are living in the toilet. We have spread out a tin sheet on the toilet floor to cover the pan. At a corner, food is cooked, on one side there are clothes and the least furniture we have and in the rest space, three of us manage to sleep. The rest two have to sleep outside.”
In the meantime, Banita got elected as a ward member of ward no-2. Even then, she could not be able to solve the problem.
“We are poor people. Me being a ward member does not mean that the problems are solved with a snap of a finger. We have taken up our problems with the administration. If the officials do not take steps, what we can do,” she adds.
When asked, sarpanch Minati Sahu said, “Banita’s family is poor. She is also a ward member. The block administration has been intimated about the family living in a toilet after their house was damaged completely. I have personally requested higher officials to add her family in the awas yojana beneficiary list. But we are yet to get any approval from the block administration.
Sub-collector Lagnajit Rout, when contacted, said, “Houses under awas yojana are no longer allotted specially. However, we are not aware of the family’s predicament. We will look into it.”
In his reaction, project director (PD), district rural development agency (DRDA), Subash Chandra Ray said they were not aware of the problem a ward member’s family is experiencing. We will soon initiate an inquiry and take appropriate step to end the family’s problem.