IMFA felicitates Padmasri Shanti Devi on the eve of its 60th anniversary

Report by Badal Tah; Rayagada : Briefly narrating his visit to IMFA on 25th November, 1964 Sri C R Roy, the whole time Director of IMFA, spoke lucidly the road taken from AP’s Srikakulam to Parvatipuram and then to Rayagada by bus. He, who was born and brought up in a city like Kolkata, got really thrilled to traverse from Rayagada to Therubali and had a feeling of stone age. But the next day he celebrated the birth anniversary and fell in love with the area, the people, a small IMFA team including the great visionary of new Odisha Late Bansidhar Panda himself. What a coincidence ! History was repeated as he arrived yesterday and was fortunate to celebrate the 60th birth anniversary of IMFA & 90th birth day of Bansidhar Panda. He alongwith Sri K V Rao, Vice-President & Unit Head of IMFA Therubali felicitated Padmasri Santi Devi.

The felicitation ceremony, which was solemnized inside Laxmi Narayan Temple campus, was attended by Smt Victoria Kullu, District Social Security Officer(DSSO), Sri Badal kumar Tah, General Secretary, Odisha Sarvodaya Samaj & several dignitaries of the area including PRI members, dibyangjans, senior citizens. Blankets were distributed to hundreds of old aged persons. Dibyanjans were overwhelmed when financial assistance in the form of cheques and battery operated tri-cycles were handed over to them on this occasion. DSSO Kullu lauded about the govt’s several social security schemes and assured to assist the genuine cases when sought for. Badal reminisced the four rounds of peace march taken up under the leadership of late Dr.Ratan Das, husband of Smt Santi Devi. Shanti Devi was the fore runner in the said march disapproving the violence by the Maoists and counter-violence by the state. Even with her broken leg, she took an unusual way in the dens of Maoists from Malkangiri to Kendujhar giving a clarion call to have a dialogue between the Naxals and the state. She led the peace march inside the conflict zones like Narayanpatna in Koraput and Bhaliapadar in Gajapati.

Sri K V Rao elaborated about the present activities of IMFA at Therubali. It had emphasized the development of the local people and area in true spirit, he said. Smt Santi Devi recollected her stay in Sankulipadar & Balikhamar villages near to Therubali and worked for tribal children’s education and community health. She used to meet late Bansidhar Panda and Ila Panda, who used to live a simple life in a small asbestos house. That simplicity led him to establish such a big industrial house giving local employment and augmenting the state’s productive process. She wished the process to further expand so that more & more poor also benefit from its dividend. She was amazed to meet & interact the next generation of villagers of the villages where she physically stayed and worked.

Kumari Rajeswari Devi, Secretary, Seva Samaj and Sushri Maya assisted Santi Devi in all her efforts of social work since long. They even went with Santi Devi into the Rashtrapati Bhawan when Santi Devi was felicitated with Padmasri. Sri Jagannath Panda, Sri Radheshyam Panda, several Sarapanches and other denizens also felicitated Shanti Devi for her achievement. Sri Sakti Panigrahi, Sr.Manager, PR & CSR, who moderated the entire event, thanked everyone including Rajeswari Devi.