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Sharmili Mallick

Forty-five-year-old Srikant Nayak, an environmentalist and activist of the Kharasrota Banchao Sangram Samiti (KBSS) was found lying under a tree near the Medicine Ward of SCB Medical College and Hospital (SCBMCH) in Cuttack on Thursday morning on account of non-availability of bed at the hospital.

However, later in the day he was shifted to the ICU of the medicine ward after the news of the ailing activist lying unattended under a tree made headlines in the regional media.

On August 10, Nayak had proceeded on a hunger strike near the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Kendrapara Town opposing the diversion of water from Kharasrota River to neighbouring Bhadrak as part of the Rs 754 crore mega drinking water project in under the Basudha Yojana.

He was admitted to the Medicine ward of Kendrapara District Headquarters Hospital (DHH) (Bed Number-107) on August 15 by the district administration after he fell ill due to the hunger strike.

At around 9 pm on Wednesday, the district administration, with the help of the concerned police station, reportedly moved the activist from Kendrapara DHH to Cuttack SCB in an ambulance without citing him any valid reason.

However, as no bed was available in the Medicine ward at SCB, Nayak was allegedly abandoned under a tree in the hospital premises.

“On Wednesday night a team of policemen who carried a referral letter appeared before me suddenly. They told me that they had come to take me to the SCB. I told them since my family members were not present with me, I won’t leave the hospital. However, I was forcefully taken to the casualty ward of SCB,” said the Nayak who is a well known environmental activist from Rajkanika area of Kendrapara.

“The casualty was teeming with patients when I arrived on Wednesday night. Later on I was taken to the medicine ward. However, no bed was available there. Finally, I was made to take shelter under a tree,” alleged Nayak.

However, despite the ill-treatment and deteriorating health, Nayak promised to continue the protest till the project wasn’t stopped. “The project on Kharashrota river will have an adverse effect on the Bhitarkanika National Park. Our protest will continue till Bhitarkanika National Park and Kharasrota River are saved from the disaster.”

Soon after the news of Nayak’s plight spread, authorities at the SCB sprang into action. 

Emergency officer at the hospital, Dr Bhubanananda Maharana rushed the spot and made arrangements for Nayak’s admission to the hospital.

“Nayak has been shifted to the ICU in the Medicine ward. We will investigate the allegations to find out how he landed at the spot (under a tree). I think he might have been referred to the Medicine ward from Casualty,” said Maharana.

Nevertheless, the alleged inhuman treatment to Nayak by the Kendrapara district administration has received flak from all quarters.

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