New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued notice to the Punjab government over reported lack of proper access to education facilities for children of border areas of Ferozpur district.
The Commission took suo motu cognizance of a media report about the plight of students of Kaluwara village of Punjab especially the girls who have to first walk on foot in slushy banks of the river Sutlej then board a Berhi (a wooden boat) and cross the river to walk for another 4 kms along the border with Pakistan before finally reaching the Government Senior Secondary School in Gatti Rajoke area of the district Ferozpur of the State, NHRC in a statement stated.
The news report further revealed that Kaluwara is surrounded on three sides by river water and by the border fence on the fourth. It is also stated that during the heavy rain, the river floods fields and homes, forcing the residents to spend days together on their rooftops. The village houses 50 families and has only one primary school. Most of the girls studying in the primary school drop out after Class-V due to the extreme difficulties in getting to the schools for higher education, it stated.
The Commission observed that the contents of the news report, if true, raise issues pertaining to the apathy of the state authorities towards the Right to Education of the students as well as the Right to Life and Dignity of the people residing in the area. The State has a responsibility to ensure their safety and to safeguard their human rights by providing them an environment to live with dignity, it added.
Accordingly, it issued a notice to the Punjab government, calling for a report along with the action taken report about the steps being taken or proposed to be taken to provide for better and hassle-free access to the students to the school in the area, either by creation of a new school at a nearby place or by providing better access, avoiding the river Satluj/Berhi, while reaching the school, it added.
According to the media report, carried on November 16, the two girls, who have been attending high school amidst odds, say that sometimes they are the only ones on the Berhi without any boat man, which is maneuvered using an overhead cable that is tethered to poles on either ends of the river bank. The girls have to tug at the overhead rope with all their might, haul themselves onto the boat and wait for it to steady itself before rowing to the other side. It was also mentioned that sometimes the students have to wait for the Berhi for more than two hours as they have to wait for someone from the other side to row the Berhi towards them.