They walk to school owing to withdrawal of bus services

Students of Kooththankuzhi have to put up with the hot sun and walk their way to school at Idinthankarai to appear for the Plus Two public examinations since Monday.

Not only the withdrawal of bus services but also the road blocks put up by anti-nuclear energy protesters has hit these students. “Seventeen of us (boys) from our village have been walking to school for the last three examinations,” said A. Vijay. He is a student of commerce stream in Bishop Roche Higher Secondary School, Idinthakarai.

When asked as to why they do not use their bicycles, he said that the roads have been blocked. The boys start walking at around 7.30 a.m. from their home to reach the examination centre on time, said T. Pramilton.

The distance between their home and school is around three km. Similarly, they walk back home under the hot sun. “We are boys … not girls,” he said with a chuckle when asked why they do not use caps or umbrellas to protect themselves. S

ix girls of the school also walked their way, the boys claimed. “For the girls, their parents accompany them,” one of them said.

A few boys had come to school in motor boats through the sea route, they said. But J. Kingmose, student of mathematics stream, said that he, along with some 10 others, hired an autorickshaw on Thursday to reach school. “We paid Rs. 200 for that,” he added.

The lack of bus services has not only affected the students but also the teachers. “Six/seven of us have to go to schools in other villages as invigilators. But we could not go because of lack of buses. We have informed the officials and they are able to manage the situation,” a teacher said. Invigilators for Idinthakarai school had come in two-wheelers.

Meanwhile, students of lower classes are boycotting the school for the past four days. The boys, wearing colourful T-shirts and Bermudas/trousers, are roaming around the Lourdes Church, where the anti-nuclear energy activists have assembled. “We will not go to the school till the (Kudankulam Nuclear) power plant is closed, come what may,” said Nithilan, a 9th standard student.

When asked whether it would not affect his studies, “We will be here only if the village exists. What am I going to do if the village itself will not be there,” he said expressing the villagers' fear over the safety of the nuclear power plant.