Abhishek Kumar Das shares how his video helped Tapan Sagaria of Nuapada district Odisha get his disability pension.
Tapan Sagaria lost the use of one leg after an unexpected accident in 2010. With the weight of providing for his family heavy on his shoulders, he had hoped to start receiving money from the Madhu Babu Pension Scheme. After his application was rejected twice, Tapan had almost lost hope.
Enter IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent, Abhishek Kumar Das. Abhishek made a video documenting Tapan's plight and his attempts to secure his pension under the sate sponsored scheme.
"Tapan spoke to me about how difficult managing the costs of his house was. The responsibility of earning had fallen on his young son who was doing wage labour instead of going to school. By making the video I wanted to highlight not only Tapan's case but also the wider issue of the difficulty faced by physically challenged people in India."
Abhishek has a long career of being a social activist. He is well aware of the bureaucratic delays simple things take. With 2 Impacts already under his belt, this issue seemed like a fairly straightforward one to tackle.
"After making the video I called the village headman and asked him to take action on the case. I then went straight to the Social Extension Officer to show him the evidence I had gathered. The officer was actually quite co-operative and ensured that the paperwork would be put through soon", says Abhishek.
"The headman in the mean time had gone to Tapan's house, filled out the form and personally delivered it to the Officer. After that it was just a matter of waiting. The wait wasn't too long as within a month Tapan's application had been cleared. The pension money has been coming in regularly since. Tapan now gets Rs 300 a month."
When asked why the process worked this time and not the first two times, Abhishek said:
"This is how it happens. No one ever gets an approval for such schemes in the first try. Call it negligence or call it the wonders of bureaucracy. But I can tell you one thing for sure, knowing that someone is keeping an eye on them makes officials nervous. They will do their work very fast to make sure there is no public attention."
"After years of working, I also feel that being able to give someone concrete evidence of an entitlement violation, rather than just talking about it is a big advantage. Seeing the video, even if it is just raw footage, an interview of a man tired of waiting will hit a chord somewhere and make an official act."
Stay tuned to watch more as our Community Correspondents take on vital issues like this one video at a time.
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