Cassian Baliarsingh

Exposing the tall claims of the Odisha government in providing banking facilities at the doorstep, a 68-year-old divyang woman had to crawl for 30kms to a bank to withdraw her pension money.

Unable to walk due to her leprosy-infected legs, the woman had to walk on all fours on the damaged and stone-filled road from her village to the nearest bank for 30 km. The heartwrenching incident has been reported from Odisha’s Kutra in the tribal-dominated Sundargarh district.

According to sources, the woman identified as Tersa Barla was ill and had taken medicines from a traditional healer in the village. To pay him, the woman had gone to a ‘Jana seva kendra’ to withdraw her pension money. However, the officials at the seva Kendra turned her away citing her Aadhaar card was not linked to her bank account.

With no other option left, the elderly woman had to crawl all the way to the bank to get her Aadhaar card linked to her bank account. Halfway to the bank, a kind-hearted social activist spotted her and offered help.

Upon enquiry, it was learnt that her Aadhaar card was linked with her bank account and she was fooled by the officials of the Jana Seva Kendra. The social activist helped her withdraw Rs 1000 from her account and arranged her transport back to her village.

Despite repeated such incidents, the state government’s miserable failure to provide banking facilities at the doorstep, especially to elderly people has received severe backlash. 

Furthermore, Tersa has been ‘divyang’ by birth but has to do everything all by herself after the death of her parents. 5 kilos of government rice and monthly elderly allowance is the only hope for Tersa who has been living all alone since the death of her parents.

Even as the government has launched scores of schemes to help the ‘divyang’, all such programmes have failed to reach Tersa. A tricycle would help her live a dignified life in the area, Tersa said.

Later in the day, SBI issued a clarification saying, “The fact of the case is that the said lady was advised by her village CSP that the Aadhaar linkage can be done in her branch Kutra which is 30 kms away from her house. When she started for the branch, one reporter met her and he took her to another CSP where it was found that Aadhaar was linked and she withdrew Rs 1000.”

“She had never gone to branch crawling for 30 kms. We have verified the fact from the branch and their Regional Manager also,” said Amaresh Das, AGM PR & CSB, SBI LHO, Bhubaneswar.

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