Keonjhar: Daitari Naik, popularly known as the ‘canal man’, who had won the Padma Shri has decided to return the award. It was in recognition of his extraordinary effort in digging out a 3 km stretch from Gonasika hill to his village Baitarani in Bansapal block in Keonjhar district to draw stream water for irrigation. Naik had received the award from the President, Ram Nath Kovind at a Civil Investiture Ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan on March 16 this year.
“The Padma Shri award has made my life miserable. From the day of receiving the award from the President, I have been running from pillar to post in search of work to eke out a living but to no avail. As this award has given me name and fame, no one is giving me small work as a daily wage labourer, which has made my life miserable. My family has managed to survive by selling kendu leaves and ‘amba sadha’ (dried mango pulp),” the septuagenarian told the media on Monday.
Naik also said that he had requested the administration to construct a wall on both sides of the canal stretch from the hill to his village. “I had also requested the government to construct an all-weather road, an Anganwadi house and a hospital. As all my requests have fallen on deaf ears, I have decided to return the Padma Shri since it is of no use to me,” he pointed out.