For The First Time, Tribal Woman Becomes Member Of Odisha State Planning Board
March 29th, 2018
For the first time, a tribal woman was included in the list of members of Odisha State Planning Board. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who is also the Chairman of the State Planning Board made the announcement on Saturday. Kamala has been included in the panel of five new members that makes five-year plans for the state apart from providing short and long-term policy guidelines, reports The New Indian Express. Kamala, a 68-year-old woman hailing from Patraput village in Koraput district, is a known figure in the district.
“I had never dreamt of getting such a prestigious Government post. I came to know about the announcement from media. I would give priority to provide drinking water supply in the villages,” Kamala said.
Rabi Narayan Nanda, former minister and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader expressed his gratitude to the state government for selecting Kamala as a member of State Planning Board.
Kamala Pujari, who hails from tribal-dominated Koraput district, has been preserving local paddies in her area. She has preserved hundreds of indigenous varieties of paddy. As far as Kamala is concerned, conserving paddy and promoting organic farming is not a pass time. She took traditional farming seriously and had learnt the basic techniques from MS Swaminathan Research Foundation at Jeypore. After getting here, she mobilised people, arranged group gatherings, and interacted with people to shun chemical fertilisers. She called many people to join with her and knocked door to door from village to village. Her efforts bore fruit and farmers in Patraput village and neighbouring villages gave up chemical fertilisers.
She also participated in a workshop on organic farming organised by MS Swaminathan Foundation at Johannesburg in 2002. Her efforts towards organic farming were appreciated by the participants across the world.
Amidst indifference from authorities
Kamala, who belongs to the Bhumia tribal community lives in a mud-and-thatch house, as reported by Hindustan Times. She reportedly said to her family members that she would have been happy if she would be given a pucca house than a membership in the planning board.
“She is hardly enthused by the CM’s announcement of making her a member of the State Planning Board. She wanted a pucca house of her own under any government scheme than these posts,” said Sudam Pujari, Kamala’s grandson said to Hindustan Times. “My grandmother gets invited to inaugurate buildings named after her. But why can’t the government give her a pucca house?” he added.
Her family members said that she had applied for a house under Indira Awas Yojana in 2016, but it was not granted. Her younger son Tankadhar has been allocated for a pucca house under the scheme, but it is still under construction.
Although a ladies hostel was built in the state named after her, she lives in a kutcha house with her six-member family. Along with her sons – Durjyadhan and Tankadhar – she ekes out her living by farming.
Awards and achievements
In 2002, Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (QUAT) in Bhubaneswar named after Kamala. She had won Equator of Initiative Award in 2002. The Odisha government had felicitated her as the best woman farmer in 2004.