Children in Khanapur forest do not have to trek anymore to go to school

Justice P Vishwanatha Shetty initiates suo motu proceedings based on The New Indian Express story published on July 26
Image for representational purpose
Image for representational purpose

Taking note of the plight of the students mentioned in the story titled ‘These kids trek 24 km on a forest track to school and back’ published by The New Indian Express in its edition on July 26, the Karnataka Lokayukta Justice P Vishwanatha Shetty has initiated suo motu proceedings against the authorities concerned.

In the order passed on July 26, Justice Shetty directed the authorities to take steps to provide transport facilities to the children.TNIE’s story highlighted the woes of young children, who walk in the dense forest, covering about 24 km, every day to go to the school. It also highlighted that, on certain occasions, the officials of the Forest department use their patrolling vehicles to help students reach the school and back.

“While the gesture shown by the officials of the Forest department is appreciable, the students cannot be made to depend upon the grace of the officials, without providing regular transport service. Children cannot be exposed to severe sun, rain and wild animals,” said Justice Shetty, while treating the inaction of authorities as ‘mal-adminsitration’ under Section 2(10) of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act. “It is needless to point out that the long distance of travel would seriously affect the academic curriculum of the students,” the Lokayukta observed in the order.

Taking note of the issues, Lokayukta issued notice to the Principal Secretaries, Department of Primary and Secondary Education, Transport Department, Deputy Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of Zilla Panchayat of Belagavi District, Managing Directors of KSRTC, NWKRTC and Deputy Director of Public Instructions and Block Education Officer of Belagavi District. The Lokayukta directed them to examine the issues, and submit their comments or action report within four weeks from the date of this order. The matter will be heard on August 29.

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