CHHATRAPATI SAMBHAJINAGAR: TOI’s August 27, 2023, report on children from Bhiw Dhanora village in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad district rowing thermocol rafts across the Jayakwadi dam’s backwaters to school appears to have started turning the tide their way.
The Bombay high court’s Aurangabad bench has taken suo motu cognisance of the TOI report and converted it into a PIL to be heard on September 4.In a double-booster, officials from the stateeducation department have reached out to the villagers to work out a solution. The residents described it as the first such initiative ever.
The village is divided in two halves by the backwaters of the dam, and the children often have to fend off snakes while rowing to school.

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Lawyer Pushkar Shendurnikar, appointed by the HC as amicus curiae (friend of the court), confirmed Tuesday the matter had drawn the judges’ attention.

“The division bench of Justice Ravindra Ghuge and Justice YG Khobragade expressed serious concern about the plight of the students residing in Bhiw Dhanora village and the daily ordeal faced by them for attending school by using thermocol rafts and the inherent dangers they face while heading and returning from school,” Shendurnikar said while confirming the September 4 hearing.

Visiting Bhiw Dhanora, the education officials offered to start a primary school near the villagers’ homes so that the children do not have to row to school. The team, led by education officer (primary) Jaishree Chavan, offered an array of options to the villagers.
“We went to the village to understand their situation first hand. We have offered to start a makeshift class for primary students and a vehicle for their pick-up and drop to school,” Chavan told TOI. Other arrangements were also discussed, such as online education during the monsoon season and deputing a teacher for conducting exams, Chavan said.
Farmer Vishnu Kale said, however, that the officials realised it was almost impossible for a vehicle to ply twice daily to their village, which does not have a commutable road. “They did not have any solution for the children in middle and secondary school,” he said. Others were happy to have at least blipped on the government’s radar after years of neglect and obscurity. “We just hope a solution is worked out so that our children do not have to risk their lives for education daily,” said Ganesh Adhane, another villager.


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