Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Dhenkanal, Nov 13:
Looks can be deceptive, thin and simply dressed, Nayan Patra of Odisha is actually a power-packed tornado, be it fighting alcoholism, protecting forests, building toilets, promoting girls’ education and women emancipation, the 47 year-old is at the fore-front of it all.
The two time ward member in Dhenkanal district of Odisha’s Maluagoda village with her innovative ways has inspired many women and brought grassroots changes in the society.
A farmer, the mother of two is undeterred by a daughter with special needs; she was also a star campaigner for a UN Women project dedicated to elect women representatives.
Her initiatives such as imposing fines on those found drunk and using the money for building public toilets in her village, fighting the timber mafia and protecting 250 acres of sal forest, establishing a residential school for girls, and helping women’s groups to get loans for small entrepreneurial endeavours, have been a great success. She had been awarded Outstanding Women Panchayat Leaders Award for 2013, and the district level Nandini Devi award and Governor’s award.
Her innovative method of imposing a fine of Rs 1000 on the drunks has helped discourage anti-social behaviour and the money was used to build six public toilets and maintain them in Baraun panchayat.
Patra, herself an illiterate has took the initiative for setting up a residential school for the girls in the village, where now 150 girls are getting educated.
Realising that forests are a mainstay to the village economy, Patra rallied together five groups of 15-20 women each who patrolled the 250 acre Sal forests surrounding their village to put a stop to the timber mafia. They have also planted a thousand cashew nut plants on bare government land.
She is an inspiration to all and proves that where there is a will there is way.