NEEMUCH: Article 21A of the Indian Constitution mandates that all children between the age of six and fourteen be provided with free and compulsory education. However, in Kheda Buj village in Madhya Pradesh's Neemuch district, children of about 50 tribal families are being denied this fundamental right for four years.
In 2015, the residents of Chainpura, part of the Gandhi Sagar Sanctuary, were displaced from the forest area to the village in Kheda Buj in Rampura tehsil. The rehabilitation also had a compensation package from the administration at the time.
However, since the relocation four years ago, the children haven't been to school because there is none in the new village. While the nearest school is just three kilometres away, the threat of wild animals in the dense jungle on the way deters parents from sending their wards to the school.
Chhote Lal Bhil, a resident of the vilage, said that it is unfeasible for the parents to drop their children at school as that would mean being late for daily labour work, which earns them their livelihood.
The children take care of their younger siblings and learn to do household work at an age they should be in school learning different subjects. Rumours of child-lifting also add to the worry of the parents.
The problems of the village are not only limited to the domain of education. There is no Anganwadi centre for women and children in the village. The final kilometre of the road leading to the village can only be covered by foot. The makeshift electricity poles are uprooted by the faintest of rains and add to the danger when the live wires fall on puddles.
The village also has one hand-pump for the entire population. In the last four years, the residents of the village have requested the local MLA and the district administration for proper facilities. But they have received nothing more than assurances. The residents have now come to believe that since they belong to the tribal community, their voice has no power.
Dinesh Padaypati, a social worker, said the residents of Kheda Buj have not been provided with proper electricity or water facilities. He added that most of the residents are labourers and they are deprived of even the basic amenities.
Ram Dayal, a resident of the village, said that besides children having to miss school, the solitary hand-pump has been the root cause of many quarrels.
Another villager, Devkanya Bai, said the money they received as compensation during the displacement was used to buy land and settle here. Since then, she stated, the administration hasn't helped them at all.
P.S. Goyal, an official of the district planning committee, said since the nearest school is less than three kilometres away, a new school has not been constructed in the village. However, he assured that immediate action would be taken after consultation with the education department.
Vinay Kumar Dhoka, the additional district collector of Neemuch, told 101Reporters that problems regarding the absence of school will be solved after discussion with the authorities of the education department. He said it is yet to be seen if the village is part of the official records, and then other development work will be carried out.