July 28, 2020 1:38:57 am
Till about last week, students of the zilla parishad school in Velas in Ratnagiri district were forced to study under candle light or solar lamps after Cyclone Nisarga knocked out power supply to their village in early June. With electricity restored, teachers of the ZP school are now heaving a sigh of relief that the children of the village will finally have access to online learning and will not be reliant on the hand-delivered notes that were distributed by teachers when the village was under blackout for the last two months.
In Ratnagiri and Raigad, with over 1,500 schools damaged due to the cyclone, village residents and local administration are looking to their gradual restoration before lockdown ends and schools reopen.
“The roof of the school was damaged due to the cyclone. There has been damage to the electronic equipment including the computers of the school, benches, papers have all got drenched in the rain,” said school teacher Ashok Tandle. The school caters to 65 students of two villages with classes up to Class VII. “Since the school is currently shut due to the lockdown, we are managing by delivering notes to students or through WhatsApp. Online classes were not possible as there was no electricity for 49 days. Once the lockdown ends and schools reopen, there will be a requirement to ensure that the repair work and restoration of equipment is carried out,” he said.
Velas is known for its turtle festival organised by locals where the rare species of Olive Ridley turtles hatch their eggs on the beach, garnering tourist attention. Two groups of citizens, Better Citizens and Jump Start, who regularly visited the village as tourists have come together to help the village garner funds to carry out the repairs, residents said.
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Raigad district, which was also severely affected by the cyclone, saw damage to nearly 1,500 schools and 1,000 anganwadis. “Most of the damage in schools and anganwadis is that of the shed or roof being blown away by the wind. Repair work is carried out through local village initiatives, CSR funding and donors. In cases where there is major damage, the government is carrying out assessment,” said district collector, Nidhi Choudhari. She added that electricity supply has been restored to 98 per cent of the consumers with restoration work left in 13 villages, five in Srivardhan and eight in Mhasla which will he finished this week.
An official of the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited said that restoration was challenging due to factors including the lockdown, the extent of damage and the monsoons. “In some villages, the restoration work was being carried out amidst heavy rains and hilly terrain in coordination of workers from across the state. The restoration was done in 23 Covid hospitals, 518 mobile towers and over six lakh household consumers. The work to restore electricity in the remaining villages is ongoing,” the official said.
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