Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

At a time when most of the public representatives at the Panchayat level in Odisha often indulge in corruption, a Sarpanch in Puri district has won hearts in his area with his honesty and integrity.

Meet Surendra Behera who is the Sarpanch of Chandradei Gram Panchayat under Pipili block in Puri district.

When Sarpanch of most of the Gram Panchayats in Odisha are maintaining lavish lifestyles, Surendra is still living in a dilapidated house. His thatched house was damaged in cyclone Fani in 2019. Surendra has not been able to repair it yet due to financial constraint. He, along with his family members are still living in the dilapidated house by covering its roof with polythene sheets.

As per the villagers, Surendra is an honest fellow and they motivated him to be a Sarpanch candidate in the Panchayat election. With most of the people in the Gram Panchayat voting in favour of him, he was eventually elected as the Sarpanch.

Surendra didn’t let the trust of the people go down. He is so much engrossed in service towards people that he hardly gets any time for his family.

“I am the Sarpanch of the Gram Panchayat. I should give importance to the need of the people first. If I build my house instead of looking after the requirement of needy people, what will they think about me,” said Behera with a smile.

Surendra might be getting a lot of happiness from his social service as a public representative, but his family members are worried for getting neglected in the process.

“We are living in the dilapidated house with lot of fear. Whenever, there is rain and storm we get scared. Our life is at risk. However, we have no option but to live here,” said Tilottama Behera, Surendra’s sister-in-law.

As a Sarpanch, Surendra is getting a paltry allowance of Rs 2,300 from the government. During a time when the inflation is galloping, it is quite difficult to maintain a family with this meager amount. Hence, he is forced to run an auto rickshaw whenever he gets little time from his busy schedule to make his living.

“I have been driving auto for the last 20 years to earn my livelihood. The meager amount I get as an allowance is not enough to maintain my family. Whenever, I get free time, I drive the rickshaw to make my living,” said Surendra with humility.

Meanwhile, the villagers shower their praise towards Surendra for his honesty and simplicity.

“Surendra is a very nice guy. He is simple and honest. As a responsible Sarpanch, he carries out his duty with utmost sincerity. He never indulges in corruption and favouritism. During his tenure, so many developmental works have been undertaken in our area,” said a villager. 

  • Reported by:
  • Duti Krushna Pattnaik