More than 100 tribal students of a Panvel hostel were on the road on Thursday after the landlord of their hostel locked their rooms for allegedly not getting the rent for the past several months.
Around 10.15am, Vishnu Popeta, landlord of Padgha Adivashi Boys hostel, kept the belongings of the students outside the premises and locked their rooms. The Tribal Welfare Department of Maharashtra, which took the building on rent for running the hostel, has not paid him Rs12.57 lakh, rent of around 17 months. The departmetn is responsible to pay the rent and not the students.
The hostel has a capacity of 192 students, but many of them went on vacation on Wednesday. Most of them are BSC, BA and engineering students.
The distressed students then moved to another tribal hostel at Sector 11 in New Panvel, which is owned by the government. They later informed activists and protested against the people responsible for their plight by removing their shirts. Officers from the Tribal Welfare Department, local tehsildar reached the spot after a few hours. However, they were unable to find out an immediate solution to the issue.
Despite several attempts by HT, Popeta was unavilable for comment. In the evening, nine students went back to the Padgha hostel and took shelter at the Verandah as their exam is going on. Other students stayed back at the New Panvel hostel.
HR Bhosale, project officer of Tribal Welfare Department (Raigad) said, “For the time being the boys will be stay at the New Panvel hostel. We will take care of their food and other facilities. We are discussing the matter with higher authorities and are trying to solve the matter.”
Social activists from Panvel claim that an FIR should be registered against the warden of the hostel and the landlord. However, no such step has been taken place so far.
Vishnu Gawli, a social activist from Panvel said, “This is nothing, but pure negligence on the government’s part. Around 4 lakh tribal students of Maharashtra are staying in hostels and a majority of them are facing such problems.”