The family spent over Rs.1 lakh on medicines and incidental expenses during four-month stay at King George Hospital in Visakhapatnam.

Despite overcoming a death-defying battle, he has lost interest in life, as the medical expenses he has incurred have forced his family to walk into debt trap. Gemmela Damodar’s family blames the authorities for not giving compensation for the grievous injuries caused to him.

Uncertainty is writ large on the face of Damodar (45), a tribal farmer from a remote village on the Andhra-Odisha border, who used to eke out a living by growing vegetables on four acres at Maivalasa, a non-descript village in Sovva panchayat of Dumbriguda mandal, some 150 km from Visakhapatnam.

In a wild bear attack at Ghatvalasa near his village on September 13, 2013, a few furlongs away from Odisha’s Nandgaon panchayat, Damodar and Gemmela Yendanna (55) survived, while Gemmela Balram and Korra Siba of Odisha died. Balram, Siba and Yendanna had gone to Ghatvalasa on some work. On hearing cries for help, Damodar rushed to rescue the trio.

Damodar, who belongs to Nooka Dora tribe, was bitten several times on his face, shoulders, chest and thighs by the animal. “The attack continued for nearly 10 minutes before people from the village drove the bear away. When we rescued him, we never thought he would survive, as he was highly traumatised and was in a pool of blood,” Simhachalam, Damodar’s brother, said.

Simhachalam escaped unhurt, as he ran to his home on seeing the bear.

Damodar, president of Moulalamma Vana Samrakshana Samiti, says bears and other animals frequent their areas, but for the first time, they had witnessed a fatal attack. His wife blames the government for delay in paying compensation, while the Odisha government was very prompt in providing ex-gratia and compensation to those killed and injured in their State.

The family spent over Rs.1 lakh on medicines and incidental expenses during four-month stay at King George Hospital in Visakhapatnam. “We sold one acre for Rs. 20,000, two bulls for Rs. 30,000, three sheeps for Rs. 15,000 and some hand loans,” Simhachalam said.

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