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Children’s education goes for a toss after relocation in Odisha capital

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Reported by Bidyadhar Barik
Bhubaneswar, May 5:

The education of young kids from Banafula slum in the Odisha capital has gone for a toss following their eviction from the slum and subsequent relocation to Shikharchandi.

slum children

Two months after the eviction, some 209 families have received a house to stay, but no arrangements have been made by the government for the education of their children. While more than 250 students used to attend school from these families, more than half of them have now dropped out.

Their school, which lies near the Station Bazaar, is not only too far from their new address and the conveyance cost too prohibitive for them to afford. Besides, with broken homes and the loss of books and study materials during the eviction, the priority for the kids was to offer a helping hand to their families in rebuilding their houses rather than going to a school. The timing didn’t help either as they were evicted only a month before their annual examination.

“The administration hasn’t yet thought of the education for the kids. Lack of electricity in the slum adds to the problem. Most students are not able to appear in their examination as they have lost their books and notes when our houses were razed during the eviction drive. Many kids fell sick after relocating to the new place. Some others were not able to take admission in the nearby Raghunathpur School as their old school wouldn’t issue TC (transfer certificates) to them only a month before the examination,” said Narayan Patra, President of the slum while summing up the challenges being faced by the students.

The only hope for the kids has been a well-meaning lady teacher, who comes from their old slum to teach them once in a while.

As if lack of education for their children wasn’t enough, the government has done more to add to their trouble. Living in a mosquito infested zone, the government has forgotten to issue them the promised mosquito nets. BMC workers did spray anti-mosquito medicines for a few days initially, but that was about all.

The people are living in subhuman conditions in the slum without proper houses and electricity. Though the government has given them 12X15 plots, it has forgotten to issue them the promised Rs 6000 to build their houses on the land. The polythene sheets issued by local corporator are torn due to the heavy wind and rainfall over these months.

“The condition of health services is pathetic. The kids need to be taken to Buddhhanagar health Centre for vaccination by renting autos at Rs 300 a trip. This money is too high for jobless slum dwellers. The free 108 ambulance never reaches this place on time. The issues of pregnant women are complex and many are suffering from diseases for which we need to take them to capital hospital,” said ASHA worker Mami Nayak.