Pradeep Pattanayak

Six years have passed since the depositors of Panapana Cooperative Society under Bahanaga block of Balasore district were promised a refund of their hard-earned money that was embezzled by the then society secretary and some employees. However, they are still waiting to get back their deposits. 

Each of them has a story of quiet suffering. 

During his service period, Guru Prasad Mohanty had saved Rs 16 lakh. He had plans to construct a house. Lured by the exciting offers, he deposited the savings of his life at the Panapana Cooperative Society. In 2017, when he came to know that society secretary, Pradipta Dash and some employees had done a moonlight flit with all the depositors’ money amounting to over Rs 4.5 crore, the world around him came crashing down. 

Six years later, he is sustaining his family with whatever he gets from a small betel shop.  He said he has been given many assurances. “I have been told that the audit is underway, the report has been submitted to the district Collector and money will soon be distributed. I am tired of hearing these words.”

The story of Sukanti Mallik, a widow, is even more heart-wrenching. When her husband was alive, he had deposited Rs 2 lakh for their daughter’s marriage. Now, she is running from pillar to post to get back her money. 

There are many villagers who are suffering like Guru Prasad and Sukanti. While the marriage of someone’s daughter has been stopped, some have already passed away waiting to get back their money. 

Recently, the depositors locked the gate of the Panapana Cooperative Society office and took the matter up with district Collector Dattatraya Bhausaheb Shinde.
“The audit was going on for the last two years. It has just completed. Now, we have directed the deputy registrar of cooperative societies (DRCS) to give notices to genuine depositors and conduct a hearing. We will start returning money to some genuine depositors from January 15,” informed the district Collector.

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