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Student accessing online learning material dies after falling from hillock in Odisha

A school student, who was trying to access online learning material and chasing an Internet signal, died after falling from a hillock in Odisha’s Rayagada district on Tuesday.

The deceased student identified as Adria Jagaranga was studying in Class 7 in a Bhubaneswar-based school. As schools were close on account of COVID-19 restrictions, he was stranded in his remote Kandhapanduraguda village under Padmapur block of southern Rayagada district.

Hiren Bhati, a sub-inspector of police in Padmapur police station who investigated the incident, said, “The village is situated about 70 km from Rayagada district headquarters. During the probe, I too could not catch a signal in the village. One could get mobile signal at about 400 metres from the village where the accident happened.”

“The deceased had climbed on a unstable rock, which was dangerously positioned on another big boulder. Four children who had accompanied him to the hill said he was having a smartphone with him. He fell from a height in the afternoon,” said Mr. Bhati. The boy was rushed to a hospital at Padmapur block hospital where he succumbed to injuries. His family members told investigators that Adria used to go the hill to study on a regular basis.

Rayagada is a left wing extremism (LWE) affected district. According to a reply furnished recently by the Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai to a query of Biju Janata Dal member Amar Patnaik in the Rajya Sabha, a total of 256 mobile towers were installed LWE affected districts of Odisha. The existing mobile towers were grossly inadequate to provide unhindered Internet connectivity.

Sources said the Odisha government had sent a proposal to install mobile towers at over 400 locations in LWE affected districts.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, school-going children of the State were found crossing the Odisha-Jharkhand and the Odisha-Andhra Pradesh borders in search of mobile connectivity. In interior pockets, many students often climb hills or water tank towers to catch a signal.

Odisha’s School and Mass Education Secretary Satyabrata Sahu has said that only 40% of students in the State were able to access online classes.

According to the Odisha Economic Survey, tele-density and Internet penetration is lower than the national average. “The overall tele-density of Odisha is 76.46, while the national average is 87.37. Similarly, Internet subscribers per 100 population of the State are 43.95 in comparison to the national average of 55.12. The Internet subscription per 100 population in rural areas stands at 34.51 whereas it is 85.98 in case of urban areas,” the survey said.

Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents of a young migrant worker were killed in a firing by security force personnel in Kandhamal district, while they were speaking to their son after climbing a hillock.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2021 12:30:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/student-accessing-online-learning-material-dies-after-falling-from-hillock-in-odisha/article35985448.ece

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