OTV impact: ‘Mahaprayana’ now a free service for poor

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Bhubaneswar: A day after OTV exposed the little known fact that the Mahaprayana scheme launched last Thursday is a ‘pay and use’ service irrespective of the financial background of the people, the Odisha government today made a hurried announcement that it will make necessary changes in the guidelines of the scheme to ensure that the poor and the distressed avail the scheme free of cost.

Talking to media persons here, Health and Family Welfare minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak said; “We are analysing the guidelines of the Mahaprayana scheme and trying to further simplify it to bring in greater clarity.”

The minister, however, said the state government has empowered the district collectors to bear the transport cost from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to provide the poor and the distressed free transport of the bodies of their kin.

“As per the existing guidelines, beneficiaries of all classes have been asked to avail the scheme by paying the required fee. But now the poor and economically backward classes will not have to pay anything; they will avail the service free of cost,” Nayak added.

Notably, chief minister Naveen Patnaik had flagged off the Mahaprayana scheme on August 25 to provide vehicles to poor family members to carry the dead bodies of their near and dear ones who die in hospitals to their homes free of cost.

The decision of the government had come a day after the heart wrenching incident in which Dana Majhi, a poor man of Melhghar village of Kalahandi district, carried the body of his wife on his shoulders for about 10 km from the district headquarters hospital before help arrived in the form of an ambulance due to the intervention of Ajit Singh, the OTV reporter who broke the story.

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