The state’s Tribal Ministry had brought 75 girls from adivasi areas of Thane district to Thane city with the hope of providing them with a better education and a better life.
The girls at the site of the ceiling slab collapse. Pics/Sameer Markande
However, they seem to have fallen short in ensuring the same, since these girls have been put up in a building that could come crumbling down any minute. Bhavna Bhusare, a tribal student who resides in the building, sustained a minor hip injury after a ceiling slab collapsed in her room.
Jija Padvi, warden of the hostel
The incident occurred at the seven-storey Sainath Kripa building that houses the state-run hostel for tribal girls from the district. The Thane Municipal Corporation has issued an order to the building declaring it a dilapidated structure and has asked its occupants to move out immediately. The girls staying in this hostel have not been evacuated yet.
All these girls are students who have migrated to the city for obtaining higher education and have been given this shelter under the state’s Tribal Development Department’s educational scheme. The state-run hostel in Thane was established for the development of tribal students in 2005 and can accommodate 75 girl students.
While entering the premises of the building, one can clearly get an idea about the sordid state the structure is in. A non-functional lift, paint peeling from the walls and cracks in pillars dot the seven-storey building. The structure is over 35 years old and was constructed in 1980.
Speaking to mid-day, Jija Padvi, the warden of the girls hostel highlighted the poor condition of the building and said that his seniors have been informed about the same. “I have recently taken charge of this hostel. We are aware of its dilapidated condition and have been constantly writing to higher authorities and are awaiting their response. We cannot shift to a new place until and unless we receive orders to do so,” he said.
A few of the girls who were still at the hostel on Wednesday morning spoke about the condition of their rooms. “I have been staying here for the past three years. Incidents of slab collapse are frequent here. Facilities are good, however, the rooms are not in good shape. The slab collapse incident on Tuesday has worried us a lot more,” said 20-year-old Bhagyashree Patil, who hails from Jawhar.
Officials at the hostel revealed that the girls get R900 every month for their personal expenses and are provided food and shelter for free. They are also provided with money for stationery items. “We get the allowance every month and the quality of food is also good enough. What scares us is the condition of the building since our rooms are situated at a height, on the sixth floor,” said Nikita Warghade, another student.
Speaking to mid-day, Kiran Mali, Deputy Commissioner of Tribal development department, Thane region, said, “I have visited and seen the condition of the hostel. We have written letters to the Public Works Department and are currently looking for alternative accommodation for the girls. We have short-listed a rented place at Vashi and Borivli, however are awaiting response from higher authorities as the decision on the rent finalization is taken by them.”
He added that getting a new rental place to accommodate so many students is a difficult task, since the price quoted by the government authorities is less than the on going market price. “A lot of people do not agree on giving their place on rent at a concessional rate. Bearing this in mind, we have also asked the TMC officials to help us get shelter for these girls in any of their vacant school buildings,” Mali added.