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Mumbai project adversely affecting Right to Education: Transport cost for schooling Rs 200 per day, leading to dropouts

By Our Representative
Mahul, Mumbai's rehabilitation site for the people affected by the Tansa Pipeline Project -- which seeks to replace the 100-year old water pipelines from Tansa reservoir and construction of a new 17.5-km tunnel -- is in the midst of yet another controversy following a sample survey of 130 children at the site, carried out by the Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA).
The survey has revealed that major provisions of Right To Education (RTE) Act, 2009 are being openly violated in the rehabilitation process, resulting in sharp rise in the drop out rate among the children. A report based on the survey says, children traveling to far off places to attend schools is "in complete contravention to the core principles of RTE, which include free and compulsory education."
In its report, the GBGBA says, "Since the demolition was carried out in the middle of an academic year, children had to continue their schooling in their old schools at original places. The rehabilitation site is variably at a distant place from the original places. The distance range from 10 km to 20 km."
It insists, "This has put a financial burden in the form of transportation cost on the poor families. The survey reveals that at least Rs 200 is spent per day on to and fro transportation cost. This is really a huge cost for a family belonging to the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) or Lower Income Groups (LIG)."
"Majority of the Project Affected Families (PAFs) belongs to these economic groups. Survey also recorded that in some cases where the parents cannot afford this transportation cost have simply stopped sending their children to school", the report says, adding, "​Due to the long distance between new home and old school, most of the mothers stay at school until it is over so as to save the multiple traveling cost."
The survey report complains, "No arrangements were made by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai ( MCGM) to accommodate children in a new school at the rehabilitation site so that their academic year is not affected. MCGM is the responsible body for carrying out rehabilitation of the Tansa Pipeline PAFs."
The report says, "The non-functional local sewage treatment plant has caused sewage to overflow making the streets filthier. School going children make their way to school from one those streets in Mahul rehabilitation site", adding, ​"RTE provisions stipulate the provisions of schools up to 5th standard and 8th standard within 1 km and 3 km respectively with free transportation so that the travelling cost could be waived."
Meanwhile, GBGBA has filed a complaint to the MCGM against violation of the Act and has sought quick action with a warning of mass action. The complaint says, the demolition drive leading to displacement of PAFs "has disrupted lives and livelihood of the marginalised community trying hard to sustain themselves through their hard, honest labour."
It adds, not only children are dropping out, "Children below 6 years are unable to go the anganwadis they were attending at the Tansa Pipeline. This has violated their right to Early Childhood Care and Education of the RTE Act. MCGM children’s right to health and nutrition is also violated due to the irresponsible and callous act."
The GBGBA has demanded "enough compensation to the families whose children dropped going to school as a result of financial burden in the form of transportation cost or any other cost", adding, appropriate compensation should be given to "families for transportation costs taking their children to Tansa Pipeline area schools and back. "

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
As I understand, children have to go the nearest anganwadi or school. The protest is justified only if no such facility is available close to the children's new homes

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