Although Navi Mumbai has earned the title of a 21st century city owing to its state-of-the-art infrastructure and civic facilities, one area within its jurisdiction does not have a school. Due to which nearly 300 students from Sambhaji Nagar Warlipada in Rabale, are forced to walk for four to six kilometres to get to the nearest school.
A settlement of around 3,000 inhabitants that consists of tribals and labourers, Sambhaji Nagar is located in the vicinity of Trans Thane Creek (TTC) industrial area and Parsik hill. With the nearest civic-run schools in Gothivali, Rabale and Mahape, the children, who belong to poor families, cannot afford to take a school bus or an auto-rickshaw to reach schools.
Seven-year-old Manish, who studies at a municipality school in Mahape, said, “I walk to my school in Mahape daily. Since my parents say that they cannot afford hiring an auto-rickshaw for me, I go to school on foot along with my friends, who are my neighbours.
It is very irritating to walk the long distance bracing the heat and rains.
Social worker, Anil Patil, and local corporator, Chandrakant Patil, have for long been pressing the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) administration to construct a school in the area, but to no avail.
“We have been demanding a school from the last few years, but it’s falling on deaf ears. Not a single NMMC official has visited our settlement so far to see whether a school can be constructed here. So we are forced to send our children to schools a long way from home. Moreover, heavy vehicles ply on the roads in TTC industrial (MIDC) area, and hence we are concerned about the safety of our children who go to school on foot,” said Anil Patil.
Chandrakant Patil, meanwhile, claimed that he has appealed to the civic-run public transport to ferry these children from Sambhaji Nagar to their schools. “I have written to Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport (NMMT) requesting it to start a ferry service, so children are not inconvenienced. In addition, I have also been following the matter of construction of a new school in the area with NMMC,” said Patil.
When contacted, NMMC officials expressed helplessness in building a school, citing technical issues. Amberish Patnigire, education officer at NMMC, said, “We need at least 30 students per class to start a school, and as per our information the area does not have enough students to start a school. Furthermore, the said area is located in an industrial area, so there is dearth of land to construct a school.
So we can not construct a school at Sambhaji Nagar Warlipada.”
When the Mayor of Navi Mumbai, Sagar Naik, was apprised of the situation, he said that he would ensure a speedy construction of a school in the area. “Since the area comes in MIDC’s jurisdiction, it is very difficult for us to find space for a school. However, I will try my best to ensure that a school starts operation in the area as early as possible,” said Naik.