Civic body official had sent eviction notice to 45 huts in 2010

Ever come across a government school sharing its classroom wall with encroachers?

The Viscountess Coschen Government Muslim Girls’ Higher Secondary school along East Boulevard Road has been facing this predicament for several years now.

Classrooms renovated with NABARD funding are serving little purpose. The windows cannot be opened and the classrooms are dark. For, on the other side are the ‘residents’ of the dwellings, mostly of daily wage labourers.

From the living room of the dwellings separated just by the windows of the classrooms, the sound of televisions blare all through the day, severely disturbing the teaching-learning process. “Students easily get distracted and some even attempt to watch television through the cavities in the windows in the absence of teachers,” said a teacher.

“The words used by the people indulging in frequent brawls on a daily basis are unbearable, causing severe embarrassment to students and teachers,” said the headmistress M.Sumathi rather helplessly. The school authorities have conveyed their plight to the Education Department. According to Education Department officials, there is little that they could do to ameliorate the situation. “The onus,” a senior official said, “is on the civic body and the district administration to clear the encroachments in the interest of students.”

The problem is aggravated by the parking of lorries and fish carts at the entrance of the school. During nights, the school’s front portion transforms into an open lavatory for dwellers. “As dusk sets in, the area turns risky for us to move about,” say teachers who are sad over not being able to stay back for providing extra-coaching for the students.

The plans of the school management to increase enrolment have gone awry. “There are adequate facilities in the school to accommodate more students, but parents are simply not inclined to admit their daughters due to the filthy environment. In fact, the admission declined last year,” said a worried V.M.Habibullah, joint secretary, school’s Parent-Teachers’ Association. “We live amidst the stink, and the students become susceptible to ailments. Several attempts to make the encroachers see reason have gone in vain. Emboldened by lack of action by the authorities, they also constructed a lavatory adjoining a wall of the classroom and some are even rearing goats,” the headmistress added.

Pilgrims visiting the neighbouring centuries-old Sri Bhoologanathar Swamy Temple on the other side of the 30-feet dividing road are as much harried.

Temple priests embarrassed over the vanishing of the footwear that pilgrims leave outside blame it on the handiwork of unscrupulous elements among the residents of the huts. The temple is one of the over 100 shrines in Tamil Nadu where the government initiated daily annadhanam last year.

In response to one of the several representations the school had made to the civic body, the Assistant Commissioner of Srirangam Zone had communicated to the headmistress during June 2010 that eviction notices had been sent to the 45 huts, but nothing more has come out of it.

Enquiries revealed that the huts had been rented out by the ‘original owners’ to the existing residents. Twice in the past, the district and civic administrations had attempted to rehabilitate them and had even allotted sites for their relocation. But, the ‘original owners’ after receiving the land, have retained the huts for renting them out, according to one of the temple trustees.