Reported by Raghunandan Acharya
Pallahara, Jan 18:
To go to school, they have to cross a nullah: a nullah that flows round the year but over which there’s no bridge. Tiny boats used by fishermen are the only means for these children to cross over to the other side. In the absence of a boatman, they have to row these tiny boats to cross the nullah to reach their school.
This is the daily ordeal that students residing in Jaypur village under Balipasi panchayat in Pallahara subdivision of Angul district go through.
When the nullah gets into full spate during the rainy season, children have no choice but to pack up their books as parents prefer not to send their children to school putting their lives at risk.
This, in short, is the real picture of our development and the state of our primary education in parts of rural India more than six decades after independence.
Though the village of 200 people is located hardly five kms away from Pallahara sub divisional headquarters, it doesn’t have a school. Children go to attend the upper primary school in neighbouring Fafanda village. The Jautuka nullah flows between Jaypur and Fafanda villages. Water flows through the nullah to its brim virtually round the year
“The nullah is 10 to 15 feet deep. As there is no bridge, we use boats to cross it. And in the absence of a boatman, we steer the boats ourselves to the other side to avoid getting late for school”, said Bharati Mahakul, a class five student.
“During the two months of the rainy season, we stop going to school as the nullah swells to its brim and our parents do not allow us to attend school risking our lives”, Bharati said.
It’s not that only children use these canoes for going to school. It is also the only means to cross the nullah in times of medical emergency. The village doesn’t even have a road till date and villagers still use farmland dividers as roads.
The local people representatives and government officials are apathetic to their problems, the villagers complain.
Villagers told this scribe that come elections, candidates promise a road to the village and a bridge over the nullah but turn a deaf ear after the elections are over. They said they have demanded for a bridge on several occasions but in vain.