Bombay HC raps Maharashtra govt over 'pitiable' condition of ashram schools

Terming the condition of Maharashtra 'ashram' schools as "pitiable," the Bombay High Court today rebuked the state government for its "failure" in providing basic amenities at these schools and discharging its basic duty towards the tribal children.

A bench of justices R M Savant and Sadhana Jadhav today said the government has merely been forming committees, but has failed to take any proactive steps to improve the ground condition of the 'ashram' schools (the residential schools for tribal children).

"We want action on the ground. We don't want committees. The condition of ashram schools in the tribal areas of the state is pitiable. What is the use of having such schools then?" the court fumed. The bench gave vent to its ire while hearing a plea by a
Nashik resident, Ravindra Talpe raising concerns over the lack of basic amenities and safety measures at such 'ashram' schools, a condition often resulting into tragic deaths of children.

Quoting various official figures, the petitioner said 793 children from such 'ashram' schools have died in the last decade due to snake bites, scorpion bites or fever and minor illnesses. "What is necessary to curb such deaths? Committees or a ground action plan? This is really ridiculous. The state government is obligated towards providing basic facilities to such children. It is the government's duty and responsibility," Justice Jadhav said.

The court noted that except passing resolutions, the government has done nothing to improve the condition of such schools in the state.

"Immediate action is required to be taken in respect of providing basic facilities like toilets, drinking water, medical treatments, mattresses and so on. The government should also appoint a female warden in each school," the bench said.

The court directed the state's Tribal Welfare Department secretary to comply with its directions and file an affidavit.

The court posted the petition for further hearing on August 11.

According to the plea, there are 1,100 ashram schools imparting education to 4,50,000 students in the state.

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