Education Dept yet to learn from Wular tragedy
Shikaras ferry children to submerged Bandipora school
Nadihal (Bandipora), June 7: In this small hamlet in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district, Kashmir’s School Education Department is risking the lives of about 150 school children, who are left with no option but to visit the school by Shikaras.
This is notwithstanding the gruesome Wular Tragedy in which 20 children of a Handwara school were drowned in the Wular Lake following a boat capsize due to negligence by Navy personnel and the school Principal, both indicted of “criminal negligence” by a judicial commission.
The rising water level in Wular often leads to submergence of the Government Middle School in Kulhama village. The water submerges the school, forcing the authorities to close down some of the classes temporarily besides putting a halt on other activities like the Mid Day Meals. “We face the problem of school closure time and again,” said a group of students, who were seen roaming outside.
The school, established in 2004 after its up-gradation under the Sarva Shiksa Abyan, is situated on the banks of Wular Lake, and has about 150 students on rolls besides six teachers including a headmaster.
Due to recent rainfall in the Valley, the school lawns, kitchen and the staff and student bathrooms have been submerged.
For the past five days, authorities have closed down the lower primary classes. For rest of the classes, shikaras are used to ferry students and teachers. “We had to close down the KG classes because of the fear that the little children may drown in Wular while coming to school by shikaras,” said the school headmaster, Abdur Rehman. “We have asked the Zonal Education Office to look into the issue and see what can be done in the best interest of the students.”
According to locals, the problem persists ever since the school was established six years back. “The school has been established at a wrong location. Whenever the water level in Wular increases, the school gets submerged. With the result, the teachers have to suspend some of the classes,” said Ghulam Rasool, a local.
Worse, the fear of shikara capsize has gripped the parents of school children, who demand immediate shifting of the school to a safer location. “The Wular tragedy is still fresh in our minds. School children have to travel half a kilometer by a shikara to reach the school and then back home. It is a great risk. The frequent strong winds in Wular can, God forbid, lead to drowning of children. The Education department must do something to end this perpetual problem,” demanded the locals.
On May 30, 2006, 20 children of Burning Candle Public School, Handwara, were drowned in Wular Lake due to the negligence of Marcos, an elite operation unit of Indian Navy. The inquiry commission had indicted Navy and the school Principal for “criminal negligence.”
Lastupdate on : Mon, 7 Jun 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 7 Jun 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 8 Jun 2010 00:00:00 IST
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