The children from Nattakal in Kengarai village have not been going to school since the end of the pandemic due to lack of road. , Photo Credit: ROHAN PREMKUMAR
Lack of proper road has forced 10 adivasi children from Nattakal in Kengarai village in Kil Kotagiri to drop out of school. They have been unable to attend classes regularly for over three years due to badly damaged roads that made it impossible for school vans or buses to reach the village.
The children, all over the age of five, belong to the Irula community. More than 30 families live in the village and the members are employed as daily wage workers, primarily in the local tea estates in the area.
According to local residents, the students were going to the local school in Koodadada village, but it was closed owing to poor student strength. After the intervention of the principal of the Havoor Panchayat Union Primary School and officials from the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the students were provided transport facility to study in Havoor school, around 4 km from the village.
“However, during the pandemic, a heavy spell of rain damaged the road, preventing the vans from reaching the spot,” said M. Selvaraj, a resident of the Nattakkal village.
Officials said that efforts were being taken to send the children to another school around 13 km away, through a road cutting across a private estate, but such efforts were unviable in the long-term.
Another resident of the Kil Kotagiri, requesting anonymity, said that if a road is laid to Nattakal, only adivasi residents and tea estate workers should be allowed to use it. “The entire stretch hosts a lot of wildlife, and there are fears among locals that a road to the village will benefit only real estate developers, who are waiting for an opportunity to transport building materials to the area and destroy it with large buildings,” said the resident.