For some students of Aided Hindu Primary School, Gurpur, there is an element of adventure in reaching school and returning home. Everyday, at least 50 of the 166 students, all from below poverty line (BPL) families, negotiate thick, heavy traffic on National Highway 13 to get to school. Students and staff of the school told The Hindu that their request to the authorities concerned for an indicator for traffic to stop or slow down on the road had gone in vain.
In November last year, three of the school children, discussed the issue in the school's Child Rights Club and attended the Gurpur Gram Panchayat, said Mahalinganaika, assistant teacher in the school. They gave, in writing, a request for a zebra crossing to be painted on the road near the school.
The students who attended the panchayat meeting said the panchayat officials had said they would tell the Mangalore RTO about the problem. Thejaswini, a Class 7 student who attended the panchayat meeting, said that she and her classmates had talked at the panchayat about the issue. Shiny, her classmate, said they were told some solution ('parihaara') would be found to their problem. “But nothing has been done,” she said.
Saraswathi, Headmistress, Aided Hindu Primary School, Gurpur, said the students had faced for long the problem of safety while crossing the road. “There has been no big accident till now. Some local youths keep an eye on the children while they cross the road. But it is always a risk. Traffic should slow down,” said two teachers. They said a subway or a bridge would be ideal. “National Highway 13 is very dangerous. It is narrow here, congested, with very fast traffic,” they said.
Chethan, a student, said the students found it difficult to see oncoming traffic in the monsoons because of the mist. Students of Rosa Mystica Higher Primary School, Gurpur, were in greater danger as the school was closer to the highway than Aided Hindu School, U.P.Ibrahim, President, Gurpur Gram panchayat, said.
U.P. Ibrahim, President, Gurpur Gram panchayat: The panchayat had asked for a policeman to be stationed on the highway when students cross it but he was told there was inadequate staff.
S. Mallikarjun, RTO: “I was not aware of the issue but would depute an inspector to look into the matter besides speaking to the Deputy Commissioner and the Commissioner of Police to solve it..”
Ramachandra, Assistant Executive Engineer, National Highway Subdivision, PWD: “No one told us about this. There has been no intimation. Give me the address of the school and I will visit the spot. Constructing a hump is not possible but a signboard and painting a zebra crossing can be considered.”