Bereft of bridge connectivity, students of a far-flung village in Kendrapara district are forced to wade through waist-deep water in a crocodile-infested creek to reach their school everyday. It’s a dangerous journey for the children of Burudia village under Rajkanika tehsil as threat of crocodile pouncing upon them is quite imminent. The village does not have a school, with the nearest one located at Tarasa village, more than a kilometre from Burudia. To reach the school, children wade through the creek that separates the two villages.
“The creek is a narrow one and it spills during rainy season. The creek is also regarded as a habitation corridor of salt-water crocodiles. As there is no school in our village, we are forced to send children to the school in the neighbouring village. Children traverse through the river barrier to attend classroom teaching. However guardians and parents accompany them to ensure their safety,” said a local, Ram Chandra Mohanty.
“Parents prefer safety of their wards and stop them from going to school when the tides are high and the creek cannot be crossed,” civil society group member, Subhransu Sutar, said. Sarpanch of Tarasa gram panchayat, Sanjukta Nayak, said a proposal for construction of a mini-bridge over the creek has been approved at the panchayat body meeting and financial allocation is awaited for the construction work to resume.
“Construction of bridge is being taken up on a priority basis. Children are subjected to great hardship as they are made to wade through the water-body. We are concerned about their safety. Till the permanent structure comes up, a temporary bamboo bridge is being built very shortly,” Block Development Officer, Rajkanika, Prasant Kumar Rout, said.
Children trek over a virtual ‘death trap’ as there is possibility of crocodiles straying into water-body from Kharasrota river. “We pray to God for children’s safety as they leave for school. We are left with no other option. It is becoming a risky ritual to wade through croc-infested creek,” rued a guardian, Premanand Sahu.