Children have to walk through a forested patch that has had frequent leopard sightings, since BEST buses that ferry them had stopped plying on the uneven road, fearing accidents; PWD is now widening the road to make space for buses
Parents of school-going children in Aarey Milk Colony can heave a sigh of relief. The buses that ferry their wards to the Aarey Municipal School every day, will resume the practice of dropping them all the way to the gate, negating the need for children to walk through a forested patch that is frequented by leopards.
Schoolchildren had to walk on this patch of road, which has had frequent leopard sightings. With the PWD widening the road and making space for buses, they longer have to
The state Public Works Department (PWD) has begun work to double the road width to make space for the buses. Four BEST buses ferry 1,240 students to the civic school every day. In August last year, as the monsoon began receding, the road leading to the civic school had become uneven and full of potholes.
As it is, the narrow road was just wide enough to accommodate one bus. Moreover, the drivers feared the bumpy mud patch could cause the vehicle to tilt and, perhaps, even turn turtle, putting the lives of the young ones in the vehicle at risk.
The bus ferries 150 students; regular BEST buses can accommodate 49-51 people, with an additional 20-22 standees. Thus, the drivers would ask the children to alight at a spot 140 metres from the school gate.
“The only reason for worry is that this road passes through a forest patch which has had frequent leopard sightings,” said the parent of a student who studies at the school and resides in Khambyachapada, a tribal hamlet. The school authorities, parent-teacher association and the BEST had requested the PWD to look into the issue.
Now, the department has decided to double the width of the 3-metre road and work has already begun in this regard. S V Sahane, section engineer, PWD, told mid-day, “Earlier, the width of the road going towards Aarey Municipal School was narrow. Due to this, two buses coming from opposite sides couldn’t pass. Now the road will be widened by an additional 3 metres so two buses can easily go through.”
Around Rs 11 lakh will be spent on the project, financed by the Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) fund. PWD hopes to complete the work within two weeks i.e. before the monsoon. A majority of the students are residents of the 28 tribal hamlets in and around Aarey.
Others come from slum pockets at Adarsh Nagar, Mayur Nagar and Durga Pada. Once the road is complete, buses will start plying till the gate again and these students will no longer have to walk to school.
Did you know?
More than 3,000 students attend the Aarey Municipal School, which has two Marathi, two Tamil and one Hindi-medium division.