Beautiful sight, when the President gave Padma Awards to people wearing slippers

Daitari Naik of Keonjhar received the prestigious Padma Shri award from President Ram Nath Govind. Naik’s contributions to social work have never been in doubt. He single-handedly managed to carve out a 3-km-long canal from a mountain stream to water his agricultural fields.

Naik is a 70-year-old tribal man of village Baitarani, Keonjhar district of Odisha. He mostly depends on cultivation as a means of a basic source of income. Daitari Naik stressed on the fact that they did not have much irrigation facilities and so their cultivations suffered water scarcity.

Prakash Rao, Kamala Pujari and Daitari Naik Receive Padma Shri from President Ram Nath Kovind (Credits: Odisha Story)

Even after repeated requests to district administration, no official action was taken. So, Naik decided to take the matter in his own hands as he alone brought water to their rocky terrain. He also brought his entire community to work towards their common vision of irrigation.

The 70-year-old farmer carved out a 3 km canal from the Gonasika mountains such that the water stream could irrigate the parched land below. Though the canal is ready, villagers wish that the structure could be given a concrete lining for a smooth passage of water

It took nearly 4 years for Naik and his family to dig the canal with just gardening tools and digging bar. Now, the three-km canal provides water to about 100 acres of land around Baitarani village and because of which, there has been no water scarcity till date.

D Prakash Rao also bagged the award for offering affordable education to the children from economically backward sections of the society. Kamala Pujari, a tribal woman from Koraput was also conferred the prestigious Padma Shri for agricultural work.

“Congratulations to the living legends of Odisha Sh.D Prakash Rao, Sh.Daitari Nayak & Ms. Kamala Pujari on being honoured with the Padma Awards. Their contribution towards the education of poor, agriculture & social work, is truly commendable and a source of inspiration for all,” tweeted Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

Mrityunjay Chaubey is the editor in chief at The Youth. He hails from Indore. Before The Youth, He worked for Indian Defence News as a columnist and was a reporter at two other sports portals.