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Devbrat Patnaik

Ganjam: Already four years into the launch of 'Mahaprayan' scheme in Odisha, yet the service delivery mechanism and implementation of the same continue to remain under the cloud. Mahaprayan scheme was launched in 2016 by CM Naveen Patnaik to offer free hearse service from government hospitals to the residence of the deceased. But are people actually able to avail the facilities?

On Saturday, Nilamadhab Pradhan of Jirabadi village died of cardiac arrest while undergoing treatment at the Jagannath Prasad Community Health Centre (CHC).

Following his death, his family members asked the hospital authorities to arrange a government-run Mahaprayan vehicle or an ambulance to transport the body back to their house. However, the authorities stated that hearse vans are not available at the hospital neither is it possible for an ambulance to reach the CHC from Bhanjanagar, alleged the family.

Finding no other option, the family members carried the dead body on a motorcycle for more than 2 km to reach Jaribadi where his last rites were conducted. The video of the incident has also gone viral.

Deceased Pradhan's son-in-law said, "I was quite disturbed thinking how will I manage to bring back the body. His sons are not here. I asked the hospital compounder about availability of any vehicle - be it Mahaprayan or ambulance. We must treat the dead with dignity. He replied that hearse van was not available at the CHC, and the one at Bhanjanagar cannot reach here. He asked me to arrange a vehicle on my own to carry the body. I was clueless for an hour or two. I contacted a few vehicles, which arrived at the CHC but denied carrying the dead body. I was forced to call a relative who came to the hospital on a bike. Both of us returned to the village carrying the dead body on the same bike."

However, the response of the hospital authorities in this matter could not be availed.

There is one question which remains unanswered and still haunts the people of Odisha - For how long will the deceased continue to be a victim of an undignified last journey?

READ | Mahaprayan vans gathering dust at government hospitals in Cuttack

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