The constant fear of leopard attacks has forced parents of students studying at Aarey Milk Colony’s municipal school to shift them to other schools in Goregaon and Jogeshwari.
Since December, tribal students walking to the school from their homes in the tribal hamlets in Aarey colony have been petrified by the fear of leopards crossing their paths each week.
This unusual predicament had united the parents and members of the school management committee (SMC) to demand a special bus service for 1,436 students, run by the BEST.
The civic body had promised to start the service during the first week of school this year, but it is yet to take off.
Parents are thus forced to shift their children from the municipal school to Nand Deep School, Goregaon, and Shree Samarth Vidyalaya, Jogeshwari.
Many of these students stay as far as five to six kilometers from the school and have to walk through isolated stretches to reach the school.
Close to 50 students have already been pulled out from the municipal school and many more parents are considering the idea, with the civic body’s promise to provide buses moving at snail’s pace.
Around 3,000 students study at the two Marathi medium schools, two Tamil medium schools and one Hindi medium school.
“With the help of the SMC, we had provided the civic body a list of students who would need the service, the route was finalised and we even held talks with the BEST officials at the Dindoshi depot. Our daughter’s safety is paramount. We don’t mind sending her in a regular BEST bus,” said Ramkrishna Chavan, who shifted his daughter to Nand Deep school.
Some of the school authorities, however, claim that enrollment in the new session has been steady. But the classrooms tell a different story as some of them wore a deserted look.
“It is true that some children have pulled out due to the lack of a bus service.
In some cases, such as for class two and class three, we have combined the morning and afternoon divisions due to lack of students,” said a principal of one of the Marathi medium schools on condition of anonymity.
Civic authorities say that a budget of Rs25 lakh has been finalised, but clearance for it is yet to come, stalling the service.
A major initiative with large amt of fund are nebing implemented.