Andhra Pradesh

10 toilets for 420 girl students at tribal welfare hostel

A girl student stands outside a dilapidated toilet at the Tribal Welfare Girls Hostel at Anantagiri. (Right) Food being cooked near the washrooms due to lack of a kitchen at the hostel.

A girl student stands outside a dilapidated toilet at the Tribal Welfare Girls Hostel at Anantagiri. (Right) Food being cooked near the washrooms due to lack of a kitchen at the hostel.  

Utter lack of basic amenities led to a 14-year-old’s death as she went to a canal for a bath

J. Priyanka, an 11-year-old inmate of the tribal welfare hostel at Dumbriguda in Anantagiri mandal, wakes up before sunrise and races to the toilet to see if there is water. On most days, she returns disappointed as water supply is erratic. She and her friends then trek down to a canal 20 minutes away.

Even on the rare occasion that there is water supply, many still prefer taking the long walk to the canal. The reason? There are just 10 toilet cubicles for 420 students, which comes down to an shockingly abysmal ratio of 1 toilet for every 42 students.

Problems galore

“Students of Classes IX and X somehow make do on the campus by procuring water from nearby houses. But others are forced to go to the stream for their ablutions. We send a helper along with the children as there is no proper road to the stream,” said an official at the school.

The lack of the most basic facilities like water supply and proper bathrooms was what led to the death of E. Rani, a Class IX student of the welfare hostel. The 14-year-old had gone to the Chaparai stream on Friday along with her classmates to take a bath, when she got stuck in a mire and drowned.

Faculty members of the school said that the issues of water supply and lack of enough bathrooms must be addressed on a priority basis. Even the existing bathrooms are in a state of disrepair, with broken tiles, dysfunctional piping and ramshackle doors.

‘No room to sleep’

The hostel also lacks basic accommodation for the students, with about 417 students sleeping in six rooms which also double up as their classrooms.

Some of the classes are conducted on the balcony, with beds placed inside the classrooms. A couple of rooms do not even have power supply, and the campus does not have any cleaning staff. “We have been requesting for rooms and proper water supply for years, but no action has been initiated. Moreover, there is no room for a kitchen or a dining hall. If it rains, we experience hell,” said Mr Prasad, a staffer of the school.

Another tribal welfare girls hostel in Tokuru panchayat in Ananthagiri mandal has just four rooms for 200 of its girl students. Four girls have to sleep in two bunk beds.

Moreover, for the 200 girls, there are just 16 bathrooms. The officials have constructed a washroom block for the girl students a few years ago. However, the block does not have running water.

No boundary walls

A few students said that as the block is located right next to an empty ground, there is a possibility of snakes entering the washrooms. Not just this hostel, many hostels for girls and boys in the Agency lack boundary walls. The Kastuba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya in Dumbriguda mandal does not have a gate. A makeshift structure with bamboo was built by the school officials to serve as a gate. Chairperson of Andhra Pradesh State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Ganta Hymavathi, referring to Rani’s death, said that this is not the first time that such an unfortunate incident has been reported. She recalled an incident where a girl died after coming in contact with electric wires at Hukumpeta mandal, and the case of a girl who took her own life at Dumbriguda mandal.

“At many hostels, students are suffering from fever, sickle cell anaemia and other diseases. ITDA should take proper measures by providing basic amenities at hostels and schools. Meanwhile, officials should also conduct a full-fledged probe into the death of E. Rani at Dumbriguda,” she said.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 5:29:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/10-toilets-for-420-girl-students-at-tribal-welfare-hostel/article26901270.ece

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