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MAVAL MP Shrirang Barne, who was recently honoured with Sansad Ratna award, said on Saturday that it is the job of the state government to ensure construction of a bridge over Indrayani river between Nanoli and Varale villages. “The issue comes within the purview of the state government,” he said.
Barne’s reaction followed a report in Pune Newsline on Saturday’s issue about how schoolchildren from Nanoli risk their lives while crossing the Indrayani river with the help of a ramshackle boat to reach their school across the river at Varale.
Barne, a first time MP belonging to the Shiv Sena, said that he is aware of the problems faced by school students in Nanoli. “But the problem is that, the issue has to be handled by the state government. I don’t know why the government is not taking an initiative in this matter,” he said.
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Barne added that if the state government refuses to do anything in the matter as soon as possible, he would take up the bridge construction from his MPLAD funds. The bridge construction work was proposed nearly two decades back. However, Suresh Marathe, a ZP member, said that the work never took off.
Meanwhile, the Swaraj Abhiyan sent a letter to the Prime Minister’s office on Saturday, drawing attention to the plight of the children. “While the Prime Minister keeps talking about achhe din, school students have been suffering bad days for years and it seems that they would continue to suffer as the state government, district collectorate and ZP officials are all mum on the issue,” Maruti Bhapkar of Swaraj Abhiyan said.
“What is surprising is that Maval has been ruled by the BJP for years, and yet, this is the plight of the people and children living here. It is clear that under BJP rule, even basic facilities cannot be expected,” Bhapkar added.
Narendra Bansode, chief of the Congress Maval Lok Sabha wing, said, “Bala Bhegde has been the BJP MLA here for three years. Other than attending marriages and birthday ceremonies, he does nothing. The entire Maval is in a bad shape despite being rich in natural resources. The BJP has not ensured its proper development.”
Bansode said that they would gherao the district collector and Pune ZP officials next. The Aam Aadmi Party too said that it will take up the matter with Prime Minister’s Office and the district collectorate as it concerns the safety of schoolchildren.
Bhapkar said that Barne has been honoured with the Sansad Ratna award twice. “It seems that he received Sansad Ratna only for asking questions. Can he perform at the ground level? He has been an MP for two years. Is he not aware of the problem of the children?,” Bhapkar questioned.
Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said, “Looking at the plight of the children, it is clear that in BJP rule, you should only expect nightmares. Till something happens, we don’t think the rulers would wake up from their slumber. It shows how the BJP-Sena government is functioning in Maharashtra.”
As many as 100 students, a majority of whom are school students of Shree Bhairavnath Vidya Mandir, take the help of a ramshackle wooden boat to cross the Indrayani river to reach their school in Varale. The students live in Nanoli which has school only till Class 7. They have no option other than crossing the river as otherwise through a circuitous route, it takes them close to one hour by foot to reach the school located across the river.
The boat is run with the help of a metallic wire slung across the river and tied to poles at both ends. It is pulled with the help of nylon rope strapped to the metallic wire. “Twice during heavy rain last year, the nylon rope had snapped. We were all scared and some of us started crying,” said Adinath Londhe, a class 8 student. All the boys know to swim, while the girls said they couldn’t swim.