Nayana Patra is from Baruan gram panchayat in Odisha’s Dhenkanal district. She has fought alcoholism in her area, established a school for girls, improved sanitation, protected 250 acres of sal forests and helped women’s groups to get loans. She is a campaigner for tribal rights and working hard to help liberate the women of her ward. It is because of her efforts that the school dropout rate in her ward has declined considerably.
The 45-year-old ward officer has enforced a fine to put an end to alcoholism in her area. By imposing fine on those found drunk, she managed not only to discourage alcoholism, but to create a fund to build toilets in the village. She has been able to built six public toilets at convenient places in the village, which now witnesses higher standards of public hygiene than the people could possibly imagine.
According to The Weekend Leader, there was no school in Baraun, as the children had to undertake a long and risky journey to attend classes on the other side of a dense forest. Nayana’s project of getting a residential school built for village girls is an example of her community-centric approach. She collected funds from different government schemes to build the school. After years of efforts, she could get the school constructed, where today, over 150 girls get educated and are looking towards a better future.
Her efforts in protecting the local forests from the timber mafia are also praiseworthy. She has put together a brigade of fierce women to patrol the 250 acre sal forest adjoining her village. The tribals have been empowered to protect their land and forests. Nayana has also helped in planting around a thousand cashew plants on unused government lands. She has been elected a ward member twice, and was given the Outstanding Women Panchayat leaders Award 2013 for her initiative and leadership qualities.