Andhra Pradesh

Parents of special needs children urge GVMC to allot land to school

Parents along with their children eating lunch outside the entrance of Hidden Sprouts Special School for Mentally Handicapped Children, as part of their protest at MVP Colony in Visakhapatnam on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: K.R. DEEPAK

Dozens of parents of mentally challenged children cooked lunch on the road at MVP Colony on Thursday protesting the closure of a special needs school by the civic body earlier this year.

The parents demanded that the Hidden Sprouts Special School, which was partially demolished by the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) in June this year for functioning on land belonging to the civic body, be given an alternative accommodation or be allowed to function from the same place.

The Town Planning Department of the GVMC had partially demolished some of the temporary structures at the school on June 6 this year. The civic body also had asked the school management to vacate the premises and had closed down the school. GVMC officials stated that as per the lease agreement, the school was not eligible to utilise vacant land apart from the allotted structure. The school management had reportedly occupied open spaces and had been using them as a playground for the past seven years, officials said.

On Thursday, parents alleged that though the corporation had promised to allot some other building to the school, no accommodation has been provided till now. According to the parents, their mentally challenged children had become habituated to go to school and were now finding it difficult to stay at home all day, further affecting their state of mind.

“My son has been going to the school since 2019. The school teachers were taking good care of him. I have seen a lot of improvement in his behaviour ever since he began going to school. But for the last four months, he is not able to spend time at home and is becoming restless,” said a parent from Ravindra Nagar, who participated in the protest.

There are around 190 special children aged between five and 15 years. Many of the parents are middle-class people and some are from the Below Poverty Line (BPL) segment.

“We send our children at 9 a.m. by bus and leave for work. Again, we receive the children by 4.30 p.m. Sometimes if we fail to receive children, the teachers drop them at our homes. The school management has been taking care of our children with a lot of affection. We condemn the government apathy towards the school,” said another parent.

A few parents claimed that after the closure of the school, they are forced to stay at home to take care of their children and are unable to go to work, resulting in a loss of income.

Founder Principal of the school, K. Srinivasa Rao, said that initially the GVMC had looked for a few buildings and also finalised a building at Arilova. However, the corporators there had raised objections. Later, the civic body promised to provide an alternative accommodation at another place.

“The corporation has assured us that this issue would be brought before the council during the council meet. But there was no discussion on this in the recently-held meeting,” Mr. Srinivasa Rao said.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2021 10:08:25 PM |

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