When tribal farmer Daitari Nayak won the Padma Shri award earlier this year for carving a canal through a mountain in Odisha, little did he know the fourth highest civilian award would be a roadblock to his daily life.
But the farmer has been forced to subsist on ant eggs because the award has put him out of work and left him no choice but to sell tendu leaves and mango papads for a living, according to a HT report.
Nayak, a tribal farmer, armed with just a crowbar and a hoe, had dug through the Gonasika mountains in Odisha between 2010 and 2013, which earned him fame and the Padma Shri award.
"Padma Shri did not help me in any way. Earlier I used to get work as a daily labourer. People are not giving me any work as they think it is below my dignity. We are now surviving by eating ant eggs", Nayak told HT, adding that his old age pension - a paltry 700 rupees, was not enough to run his large family.
And as if that was not hard enough, he is also being forced to stay in a thatched house as the house he was alloted under the Indira Awas Yojana lies incomplete. His award now sits hanging in his goat shed and wants to return it so he can get some work.
Congress' Satya Prakash Nayak said that Daitari's ordeal shows how "hollow" CM Naveen Patnaik's promise to the state's farmers is. "Patnaik started Kalia scheme for farmers, but can't do anything for a farmer who dug up a mountain for irrigation", he said.