How beneficial is Mahaprayana scheme to the poor?

Bhubaneswar: Though the Odisha government had launched Mahaprayana scheme on August 25 to provide vehicles to poor family members to carry the dead bodies of their near and dear ones who die in hospitals to their homes free of cost a day after the heart wrenching incident in which Dana Majhi, a poor man of Melhghar village of Kalahandi district had carried the body of his wife from the district headquarters hospital, the guidelines of the scheme tell a different story.

As per the guidelines of the scheme, a copy of which has been obtained by OTV, people irrespective of their financial background will avail the service on ‘pay and use’ basis. In other words, they have to pay the money to carry the body of their kin.

Talking to OTV today, Dr Sujatarani Mishra, ADMO, Dhenkanal, said the scheme will run on ‘no profit, no loss’ basis. “For the first 10 km inside the town, people have to pay Rs 200 and later they will pay Rs 8 per km. The body would be carried to their houses after they deposit the money,” she added.

The state government has asked the collectors to fix the rate per km keeping the mileage, maintenance, tax and insurance of the vehicle.

The Opposition has strongly criticized this scheme of the state government.

Criticising the scheme, Leader of Opposition Narasingh Mishra said the guidelines the state government has formulated for the scheme is only applicable to those who have money. “If a poor man has no money, how can he/she afford the vehicle? IN what way this scheme is beneficial to poor people like Dana Majhi?” Mishra asked.

Lashing out at the state government, Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan said while the state government is unable to coordinate with the district collectors, one can pretty well imagine the mode of implementation of any scheme in the districts. “This government always believes in tall talks and propaganda,” he pointed out.

Supporting the guidelines of the scheme, BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb, while quoting the statement of Pradhan, asked how many such schemes the Centre has implemented since coming to power.

Prior to the launching of the scheme, the state government, in a letter to all district collectors on February 2 this year, had asked them to implement the scheme in their respective district in which there was a provision of 40 hearse vans of which 30 vans were earmarked for each district headquarters hospitals, two each for three government run medical colleges and hospital and one each for Capital Hospital, Bhubaneswar, Rourkela Government Hospital, Sishu Bhawan, Cuttack and Acharya Harihar Regional Cancer Centre.

But the scheme is yet to kick off in most of the districts, reports said.