Bhubaneswar, July 25 (LocalWire): There is no bridge connectivity for two-thickly populated hamlets in far-flung Gopalpur and Sukadebpur under Rajkanika tehsil in Kendrapara district and children are the worse sufferers here.
Everyday, the children are forced to undertake a risky rickety boat-ride to school as they cross a crocodile-infested river to a school, incidentally located in neighbouring Bhadrak district.
Around 70 children embark on their arduous journey to BBS High School in Batola village in Chandballi tehsil of Bhadrak district. The Baitarani creek divides their villages from the rest of hamlets.
‘The teenagers contend with double danger as they cross the river in unsteady boats and the threat of crocodile attack. There is no bridge connectivity even after seven decades after Independence. It’s a sad commentary on the state of affairs of primary and secondary education network in the state.
Though the government claims to have set up at least one high school in two kilometre radius, these twin villages do not have high school facility within six to seven kilometres,’ said child rights activist, Binayak Swain.
Gopalpur and Sukadebpur villages have two primary schools but there is no high school for students once they pass 8th standard. Therefore, parents are forced to send their wards to the neighbouring district’s high school.
‘It is a perilous daily ritual that the children undertake. By God’s grace, no boat has capsized so far. Besides, there is always the lurking threat of estuarine crocodiles’ attack as Baitarani is heavily-infested with crocodiles,’ said a village elder, Bamapada Biswal said.
‘We pray for the children’s safety as they leave for school. We are left with no other option,’ rued a guardian, Adikanda Rout.
‘The administration is aware of the villagers’ plight and is concerned about the children’s safety. We have taken up the matter with the schools and mass education department to set up a high school in either of the two villages,’ said Rajkanika block development officer, Subhadarshan Joshi.