The journey of life is a highly unpredictable one, to be honest. You might be at the top of the world at a certain point of time but in the next, you can find yourself lying face first onto the ground. And if there is someone who knows a thing or two about life’s cruel nature, it has to be tribal farmer, Daitari Nayak.
Between 2010 to 2013, the 75-year-old man from Talabaitarani village dug a 3-km long canal through the Gonasika mountains in Odisha, single-handedly, with a hoe and a crowbar. His incredible work led to the irrigation of 100-acre land in his area and he was honored with the Padma Shri earlier this year.
President Kovind presents Padma Shri to Shri Daitari Naik for Social Work. Member of a tribal community in Odisha, he carved out a three-kilometer canal from the Gonasika mountains. This canal now provides water to about 100 acres of land
Posted by President of India on Sunday, March 17, 2019
However, winning the award went onto ruin his life instead of building it. According to Hindustan Times, Nayak stopped getting work as people thought the prestigious recognition has made him a dignified person. The farmer’s financial condition is so weak that his family has been forced to eat ant-eggs for survival. Speaking about the situation, he said,
“Padma Shri award did not help me in any way. Earlier I used to get work as a daily labourer. People are not giving me any work as they think it is below my dignity. We are now surviving by eating ant eggs.”
Nayak, who now sells tendu leaves and mango papad to earn some bucks, wants to return the award as it no longer holds any value for him.
“I am now selling tendu leaves and ‘amba sadha’ (mango papad) to run my house. The award has lost all value for me. I want to return the award so that I can get some work.”
The Indira Awas Yojana house he was allotted a few years ago under the state government’s Biju Pakka Ghara scheme is also lying incomplete. As a result, Nayak continues to live in his old house and runs his family with only Rs 700, he gets as his old-age pension. Speaking about some more promises that were made to his father, son Alekh, said,
“We were promised by officials that the rocky canal would be made a concrete one. Nothing happened. My father is also frustrated that he is not able to do anything for the people such as getting clean drinking water.”
Fed up with the entire situation, Nayak has hung his Padma Shri Medal in the goat shed. Keonjhar district collector Ashis Thakre stated that he’ll look into grievances of Nayak and try to convince him against returning the award.
It breaks our heart to come across the struggles of this hero. We sincerely hope for a change in his fortunes which will see him earning well once again.