HC wants PIL on school bags weight reduction pending to see its implementation

Mumbai: Even as Maharashtra government today sought to dispose of a plea that demanded reduction in weight of students' school bags, saying that it has already issued a circular to this effect, the Bombay High Court said it would wait for implementation of this policy by the state.

A division bench of Justices V M Kanade and Reveti Mohite Dere was hearing a PIL filed by social activist Swati Patil on rising weight of school bags and its adverse impact on the health of children.

As per the directives of the HC, the state has already issued a circular to schools on the recommendations of a committee on reduction of weight of school bags to be carried by students to schools. The state also informed the HC that it had also fixed responsibility on principals and school management to follow this and take action against those not obeying this rule.

The government urged for disposal of the petition but the HC said it would prefer to keep the matter pending as it would like to see how the policy on reduction of weight bags is being implemented in schools and whether action was being taken against those not following this rule.

On last occasion, government pleader Anjali Helekar had said there are 1.06 lakh schools in the state and hence it would take some time to inform them about the circular. The HC then suggested that the state inform them through e-mail. Soon after the petition was filed, government had appointed a committee which submitted several recommendations.

As per the panel's report, students are lugging school bags 20-30 per cent heavier than what children of their age should carry. Because of this, around 60 per cent students below the age of 10 suffer from orthopaedic as well as stress-induced ailments, it said.

The committee recommended that one book should be used for three months for each subject and the textbook weight can be reduced by using less weight paper and no hardcover. Further, it suggested use of e-classroom, audio-visual technology and other modern means for teaching.

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