BERHAMPUR: Eminent social worker Shanti Devi passed away at the Seva Samaj Ashram in Rayagada district late on Sunday night. She was 88.
She had complained of chest pain and fell unconscious. Before medical help could be reached, she had passed away, said Superintendent of Gunupur Sub-divisional Hospital Dr Ramesh Chandra Sahu.
Shanti was conferred the Padma Shri-2021 for serving the poor in the undivided Koraput district for the last six decades.
Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave, she had left college at the age of 17 and moved to Koraput district with an aim to work for the poor in one of the most backward regions. She was accompanied by her husband Dr Ratan Das, for helping the poor.
Shanti founded Seva Samaj in undivided Koraput in 1964 and had been working for the tribals and destitute children ever since. She worked to wipe out a skin disease called YAWS and cured over 4,000 infected persons in Sankhalapadar village in Rayagada district.
With her team of 50 social workers and 500 volunteers, she was managing three child care institutions, an educational complex for ST girls and several creche centres in southern Odisha till her last breath. All the facilities were started by her in the last four decades.
Development of tribal girls was an issue close to her heart. Around 100 tribal girls are currently studying free of cost in the educational complex at Limameda village near Gunupur, that she set up with help of the Centre in 1993.
People from all walks of life visited the ashram to pay their last respects. Her mortal remains will be consigned to flames later today.(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)