Srikant Panda / Keonjhar
Pata Mahakud symbolizes a poor woman's great character and conviction to fight against corrupt officials and get back her due wages
This is a story about prevalence of rampant corruption at the grassroots in implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). It also tells about how a poor woman displayed great character and conviction to fight against corrupt officials and get back her due wages. She not only fought for justice, but finally came out with flying colours by outmaneuvering and exposing sick and corrupt people working in the system.
Dandasenapasi, a village under Dunga gram panchayat in Harichandanpur block, houses 55 tribal families, 52 non-tribal and 11 scheduled caste (SC) families. Mostly the residents of this village are daily labourers. They depend on farming to maintain their livelihood.
Praful Mahakud, a daily wage-earner, aged about 40, lives in this village with his family. He along with his wife and three children are part of his family. All of a sudden good luck making a u-turn leaving them in a wobbly situation as cruel fate snatched their peace and prosperity affecting Praful in a paralytic condition.
As his situation worsened, maintaining his family seemed to be a nightmare, putting his livelihood in jeopardy. His wife Pata Mahakud by stirring up her potential decided to step out in search of employment to support her family in the wake of prevailing situation, plunging into job market instantly in the livelihood programme of MGNREGA to sustain her family in the hour of crisis.
She engaged herself in digging of pond in Sasa village under MGNREGA. She worked continuously for getting a megre amount of Rs 2160 from 24 days of her engagement under the scheme. Unfortunately Pata Mahakud's wage was siphoned off by the contractor of the project.
Describing the incident as unfortunate, Pata said, "When I was absent at my house, one contractor took the post office pass book from my elder daughter and withdrew my wage amount of Rs 2160 without taking my signature from the post office. My elder daughter finally convinced me that the greedy contractor had withdrawn the whole amount without my consent," she added.
Then Pata taking the help of 'KIRDTI', an organization making a relentless effort for the social upliftment of such people in the region, complained before the post master of local post office. Pata knew there is a dual nexus between post master and contractor that paved the way in siphoning of her money. She again rushed to post master and discussed her grievances with him threatening to bring this case before police station and district magistrate.
Finally, lady luck smiled on her as the concerned post master returned her wage of Rs 2160 to Pata in her house. Pata now possesses enough courage and conviction to deal with any precarious situation as she faced earlier in her life showing a good precedent for those who struggle in this ho-hum livelihood programme.