Students from drought-hit areas living in hostels of the University of Pune (UoP) are facing another dilemma. Summer vacation is about to begin but students from these areas will be staying back. Their parents have asked them to stay back rather than return and face water scarcity and financial difficulties.
With farming hit by drought,the financial condition of families back home has deteriorated and the water is so scarce that one more person to share it in the family and another mouth to feed are best avoided,say students from drought-affected regions.
Pramod Pawar from Pathardi in Ahmednagar district,a second-year student of MA in Marathi at the university,says the drought has led to collapse of their financial backbone and their only source of income,farming. With no water and no work to do,Pawars family,including his aged mother and father,migrated to Pune looking for jobs.
They are staying with relatives here. My father works as a daily wage labourer. My mother is looking for a job as a domestic help. I cant see them in this state, said Pawar.
I wanted to go for higher studies,but everything has been put on hold. I am preparing for government jobs but I am also looking for part-time jobs. Even my two brothers doing their undergraduate degrees in the village are in Pune looking for part-time jobs. Apart from that,almost all students from drought-hit areas studying in Pune are planning to stay back as there is no other option.
Gautam Ranu from Karjat,a first-year student of Geology is staying back in Pune as his parents have asked him to search for a summer job here.
Pune is a costly city. Once hostels close for vacation,it will be hard for us to stay outside. I am looking for part-time jobs to sustain me here. It will be good if we get hostels to stay. The living cost in Pune is high. We are hoping to rent a room in a group and stay here until the hostels reopen, added Ranu.
As per university officials,they have 165 students from drought-hit areas who need financial assistance. We had drawn up a list of 165 students from drought-hit areas for whom examination fee will be reimbursed. The total amount to be reimbursed is Rs 1,42,000. So far,we have not decided whether to keep hostels open in summer or not. All such decisions will be taken in the next meeting, said V B Gaikwad,Director,Board of College and University Development (BCUD).
Student leader Ajitkumar feels there are much more than 165 students from drought-hit areas at UoP.
We had surveyed students and found more than 700 from drought-hit areas who need assistance. Political parties are trying to politicise the whole matter. Students who belong to a particular area or party are getting funds. Although they say all students will be given funds,only those supporting any political party are getting the funds, said Ajitkumar.
Abhijeet Rakshe said,A party had promised Rs 2,000 and held a grand event to publicise it. But the workers came and took Rs 500 back. Everybody here is trying to politicise the issue. Nobody really wants to help us.