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'Canal Man of Odisha' Daitari Naik denies returning Padma Shri

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ANI General News
Padma Shri awardee Daitari Naik, who claims he is struggling to make his ends meet, on Saturday denied returning the prestigious award.
Naik was conferred with a Padma Shri for single-handedly carving a three-kilometre-long canal from a mountain stream in Odisha.
The clarification from Naik, popularly known as 'Canal Man of Odisha', came after reports surfaced of him planning to return the honour as he has not got any aid from the government.
"Though I am facing difficulty in day to day life, there is no question of returning the award. The government must make efforts to reconstruct the canal so that all the villagers can be benefitted," he said while speaking to ANI. "Award (Padma Shri) was given to me for my hard work and it is a matter of pride for me and my family. Why will I return it?" he asked.
Naik also denied eating ant's eggs for survival. "I never ate ant's eggs because I am not a fish. All this is false and fabricated news."
Echoing similar views, Naik's son Alekh said the news displayed by the media so far on his father's poverty is fabricated. "All this news about my father is fabricated. They have been displayed to portray a negative image of my father. This is right that my father has made some demands from the government for the benefit of villagers like the reconstruction of the canal and Anganwadi in the village. The government must fulfill it at the earliest."
However, Ashis Thakre, District Collector, has denied the reports of Naik reeling under poverty. The official told ANI that the Padma Shri awardee gets benefits of the Social Security schemes of the government and Food Security Scheme.
"He and his wife are getting old age pension under Madhu Babu Pension Yojana. He had already been assisted under the Rural Housing scheme in the year 2013-14. His two sons have also been allotted two houses under Rural Housing in the year 2017-18 He has been covered under State governments Farmers Assistance Scheme-KALIA and has received the financial assistance. I request not to insult the Padma Shree awardee by creating such fabricated news," Thakre said.

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First Published: Jun 29 2019 | 2:27 PM IST

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