14-Year-Old Boy Swims 3 Km To His School Daily Due To Lack Of Transportation

14-Year-Old Boy Swims 3 Km To His School Daily Due To Lack Of Transportation

According to a paper written by N.S.Ramaswamy, three fourths of India’s population of 960 million, i.e. 720 million, live in six lakh villages. Migration to towns is reducing and the percentage of rural population in absolute numbers is increasing. But even though the government has assigned a great share of money for rural development and poverty alleviation, only 15 percent of all subsidiaries and grants actually reach the beneficiaries. The growth of rural development seems to be stagnant in spite of increased allocation in the revised Five year plan of India.
The development schemes of the government mostly have prime cities on their radar and pay minimum attention to villages unless elections are around the corner. While cities of the country are enjoying uber comfortable and efficient transportation services, villages are deprived of basic services which often hamper their development.
To bring notice to this, 14-year-old class IX boy Arjun Santhosh from Allapuzha (Kerela) is swimming 3 km to school every day with hope of getting the government’s attention.  Weary of being punished daily for coming late to class he believes that this could be the most alarming method to get the authorities to look into the matter.

14 year old Arjun Santhosh Image source:The Indian Express

For years together, residents of his village have been protesting to get a 700 metre bridge that would help connect the village to the mainland to ease out travelling to their work place and schools. Until now, most villagers including Santhosh travel by the Kerala water transport department’s boat which takes 1.5 hours to reach the mainland and  tends to be quite irregular due to certain glitches. With only two boats going through this route, they tend to get filled up beyond the holding capacity.
With this routine going on for ten days, the authorities sent him a notice that they would look into the matter and requested him not put his life in jeopardy. Collector of Alappuzha, R. Girija in a report regarding the notice said , “He is a minor and it is dangerous to swim in this season. If something tragic happens, we would be held responsible for not stopping him. Hence we decided to send him a notice.”
With some hope, Arjun has stopped his protest but will resume doing so if his plea is not being met. Recent reports said that The Ernakulam district administration is planning to construct a bridge from Perumbalam to Panavally in Alappuzha.
If proper rural transport system is provided, it will function as a catalyst, facilitator and efficient instrument for accelerating rural development and bringing about social equity.

Representational feature image courtesy: Zee newsWords:Niketa Mohan

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