Utterly upset and disillusioned with the district administration for turning a deaf ear to their pleas of mobilising urgent repairs on a road linking their school to local villages, the students of Khenkul High School in the Nabagram block of Murshidabad took matters in their own hands on Monday and turned up in their hundreds to pick shovels and get busy on the job.
According to local sources, the teachers and students had tendered separate memorandums to local political parties and district administration, urging repairs on the critical 1km stretch, but none managed to elicit the desired response.
Sensing no hope of being heard or having their plight addressed, the students, with able support from a section of teachers, pooled money to mount a unique repair effort on the road.
Home to around 1000 students, the school draws its pupils from several small villages in the Nabagram area including Jaykrishnapur, Bathan, Milki and Bilbari. The school further houses a tribal hostel for boys run by the central government.
Held among the oldest villages in Murshidabad, Khenkul has long been deprived of proper development initiatives and has even been shorn of such basic civic amenities as roads.
Every year, especially during the monsoon months, the Khenkul-Gangarampur-Shibpur road turns a veritable death trap for students. The gaping potholes and trenches on the road make commuting a hazard for both the teachers and students.
The local panchayat authorities at Kiriteshwari and Shibpur too had been in the know of the commuting woes of the school goers, but did little to address their concerns over the last five years.
With all hopes of drawing the notice of top administrative officials seemingly dead, the teachers and students raised funds from their own meagre resources and bought construction materials and tools to repair the road.
Neither the local administration nor parties contributed a single penny to the effort, said sources.
“The road has long been in a pitiable state and only grew worse over the last few years. For want of proper maintenance over the years, the road has suffered major damages and turns into a death trap for commuters during monsoon.
The road has suffered further wear and tear due to unchecked movement of heavy vehicles, which often takes this stretch to avoid traffic snarls on National Highway 34. Every other day we get word of students falling into a pothole while on way to school,” Ashim Pramanik, the English teacher at the school, told HT.
“During his days as Jangipur MP, Pranab Mukherjee once paid a visit to our school to preside over a function and we then handed him a memorandum, seeking urgent repairs on the road. We even moved similar memorandums with district MPs Adhir Chowdhury and Mannan Hossain. They all promised much, but did little,” Pramanik said.
“We feel happy to have been able start some repairs on the road and hope this effort would go a long way towards reducing the commuting hazards on it,” Sohail Sheikh, a Class 12 student who took part in the repair effort, told HT.