The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission to ensure the basic human rights of tribal children studying in naxal-affected tribal schools in Korchi tehsil in Gadchiroli district.
The direction came while disposing a petition filed by Supreme Court advocate and human rights activist Radhakanta Tripathy.
In the petition, he highlighted the tragic condition of life of tribal children studying in the three ashram shalas (tribal schools) in Korchi tehsil.
These schools are a part of “government’s efforts to bring tribals to the mainstream” and are run by a special Tribal Development Department of the Maharashtra Government. Despite this mechanism, the students in these schools are living in pathetic conditions, Tripathy averred. “Forty girls share one room in our ashram shala. There are no toilets here and we have to go out into the nearby jungles,” say s one Class Seven student of Korchi ashram shala. There are three ashram shalas near Korchi, out of which one is based in Korchi village, one in Kotgul village and another in Gyarapatti village.
When a team of journalists visited these schools, the Head Master (HM) of Korchi Ashram Shala Wankhede and the HM of Kotgul ashram shala S G Govardhan were found drunk. There are 509 students in Wankhede’s school, out of which 417 live in the school premises. In this school, the hostel and the classrooms for the students are the same.
“During school hours we learn there and after school hours, it turns into our hostel,” a Class Six student said. The vegetables were decaying, the rice and wheat were full of fungus and the chili powder and edible oil were stale in school kitchen. Hygienic food and safe drinking water are not available in the schools.
In addition, none of the ashram shalas has toilets and bathrooms and students, including girls, go into the forest to relieve themselves, the complainant pointed out.
He requested the NHRC to investigate the issue and ask the Maharashtra Government to resolve these problems, including ensuring safe drinking water, toilets and hygienic food for the children.