Bhubaneswar: She is physically challenged, but her disability does not come on the way of her life’s motto to help others.
Meet Pranati Swain (41). A polio victim after birth, the lady has become a messiah for the thirsty along the Kargil Road joining Palaspalli and Pokhariput as for last seven years she has been organising drinking water distribution kiosk (Jal Seva Sibir).
A native of Singhalo near revenue village Adhanga, 40 km away from Kendrapara town, this social activist, now living in a rented accommodation near Poonama Gate area in Old Town area, has taken up social service as a mainstay in her life. However, never she thinks the physical disability due to polio on her left leg has caused any difficulty in disseminating her duty.
A graduate in Plus Three Arts from Korua Women’s College under Patkura Assembly Constituency, Pranati started the water kiosk near the new office of Chilika Development Authority (CDA) and in front of Sushrusha, in 2013. During the preliminary years St John Ambulance Odisha extended help to her. However, for last two years the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) has extended help to her in maintaining the Jal Seva Sibir (earlier known as Jal Chhatra).
“I am grateful the organisations like St John Ambulance Odisha and BMC for helping me. Now BMC people are supplying water daily between 9.30 am and 11 am and I am distributing water to the people who come thirsty on the Kargil Road. I am happy that kids, commuters, vehicle drivers and construction workers and general public are coming in large numbers to the kiosk to have water,’’ she added.
A boy Bikash, studying in Class X was helping Pranati to distribute water among the thirsty. However, after the severe cyclonic storm Fani Bikash has stopped coming to the kiosk to help Pranati. “Singlehandedly managing the Jal Seva Sibir has become a tough job as the people coming to my kiosk have increased. I need to have a helping hand for my work,’’ she added.
Though Pranati is working hard to help people quench their thirst and especially at a time when most of the trees are either damaged of completely lost from the city’s skyline causing a sharp rise in temperature, miscreants are stealing the earthen pots from the kiosks causing distress to her.
“Earlier people were stealing the stainless steel glasses, but now they are troubling with such mischief and taking away earthen pots. I am not bothered about the difficulties and still continuing the work. I hope people will understand and better sense will prevail among those who want to create trouble for me,’’ she added.
Apart from running the water kiosk Pranati is also interested in other social service work. “I was associated with plantation programme on World Environment Day yesterday. Many trees planted along the Kargil Road are also result of our initiative,’’ she added.
Durga Behere, a resident of Kela Basti near Poonama Gate area in Palaspalli and school-going student, who comes to the water kiosk run by Pranati Swain said “we are getting much help from `didi’ as she is there to distribute water for the thirsty. She is doing a great job on her own as there is no one to help her.’’
Meanwhile, the Jal Seva Sibir in association with BMC and other social service and community-based organisations has reached 103. The civic body is also using 35 water ATMs out of 39 to dispense pure drinking water among citizens. It can be mentioned here that during the severe cyclonic storm Fani many water ATMs were damaged. However, with prompt action by BMC 35 ATMs are operating.