Bhubaneswar, December 7 (LocalWire): It is a case of paradox: While the Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik conferred the state award to 24-year-old Rabi Sabar of Nuapada district for remarkable service to people with disabilities (PwDs), the tribal man continues to serve without pay for almost two years in Biju Patnaik Special School for Mentally Challenged.
Sabar, a native of village Tanwat in Maraguda valley was afflicted with congenital cerebral palsy muscular disease and underwent rehabilitation and special education at the institute.
He later joined as an attendant in his alma mater in 2016.
While the special school survived for a decade-and-a-half on grants under the Deen Dayal Rehabilitation Scheme of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, the ministry put brakes on the Rs 12 lakh annual central grants in 2016.
Since the institution, its inmates and teachers have been surviving on charity, including funds allocated on loan basis by the District Red Cross Society, besides the ration provided by the administration under the Mid Day Meal scheme to meet the food requirements of 50 inmates.
“We have applied for grants from the state government. The Social Security Empowerment Department has granted us permission to operate the school in 2016-17, but it is yet to recognise the school, which is a mandatory clause for release of government grants,” head of the special school Rajeswari Samanta said.
The District Red Cross Society is the custodian of the school and provides funds on a periodic basis.
“However, it is not adequate to meet with the annual expenditure. The administration has taken up the matter with the concerned authorities. Once the school is accorded recognition, the government can release the grant and the financial constraints that the institution is currently encountering will be resolved,” Nuapada collector Madumita Sahu said.
The credit for establishing the special school for mentally-challenged children goes to the then collector Bishnupada Sethi who was posted here in 2000.
It was managed initially out of the sale proceeds of gunny bags procured from food for work rice distribution programme.
“The permanent building of the school was built as part of the initiative by the former collector. We need similar initiatives from government agencies as the school’s future is at stake,” a local of Nuapada town Biraja Prasad Nayak stated.