Elderly couple starved of welfare benefits

Despite having Aadhaar and Voter Identity Cards, the Dalit couple is yet to avail benefits of various welfare schemes.

Published: 13th July 2017 08:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th July 2017 08:52 AM   |  A+A-

Puna Mukhi and his wife Malati display Aadhaar cards in front of their hut | Express

Express News Service

BARIPADA: The plight of this elderly couple of Mayurbhanj is a glaring example of how benefits of various poverty alleviation schemes of the State Government have failed to reach the intended beneficiaries.

Puna Mukhi (70) and his wife Malati (65) of Indapahi village in Laxmiposi Panchayat of Baripada block have been deprived of all Government benefits. Though they possess Aadhaar and Voter Identity Cards, these have been of little use for this couple from the Scheduled Caste (SC) community.

While drinking water facility, APL/BPL card, old age pension, electricity supply and other Government facilities remain a distant dream for this elderly couple, benefits of Indira Awas and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojanas continue to elude them.

Abandoned by their six sons, the couple lives in a thatched hut which is in a dilapidated condition. While the walls have developed cracks, last year’s rainfall has made the structure weak. A tarpoline sheet serves as the roof of their humble abode which, ironically, is located just behind Mayurbhanj Medial Academy, barely 5 km from all district headquarters offices.Puna has been living with his wife for the last 25 years in the hut which is situated in a Government land.

The only valued assets that the couple possess include a few utensils, an old box and a plastic mat. And with the advent of monsoon, the couple is spending sleepless nights.

Puna alleged that village representative and ward member Braja Mohan Soren, who lives only 200 metres away from his hut, and Sarpanch Subarna Singh, have turned a blind eye to their plight. ‘’They say I am not eligible for availing Government schemes as I am landless,’’ he said.

He had even tried his luck at the block office but in vain. ‘’The block office staff asked me to furnish land documents. As I don’t have one, they say it is not possible to allot me a house under Government schemes,’’ Puna said.  

‘’I had requested the elected representatives, BDO and other district officials for a ration card and old age pension. But I have received nothing from them,” he said.

For sustenance, Puna works as a daily wager. ‘’Due to old age, I am not able to do labour hard. Sometimes, we are unable to arrange two square meals per day. This apart, being an SC does not help our cause as local people are reluctant to offer work at their homes,’’ Puna said.

Admitting that Puna has been neglected, ward member Soren said, “I had asked the couple for their documents such as Voter and Aadhaar Cards which are mandatory for processing their old age pension. However, Puna is yet to hand over the documents to me,’’ he claimed.

BDO Jatishankar Ray said Puna and his wife have not approached him. As per Government norms, the couple is eligible for ration card and old age pension despite not having land of their own.  
‘’Puna should approach the local Tehsildar for allotment of land. After that, he will get other facilities,’’ the BDO added.

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