Several posts of staff meant to ensure good health for students in tribal schools remain unfilled 15 years after the posts were created, the government has informed the Bombay High Court.
As per a government resolution (GR) issued in 1998, 37 squads of five personnel each were to be established to carry out health and medical checks on students of ashram shalas, deputy commissioner, tribal affairs, Anil Shejale said in an affidavit.
“However instead of 5 posts only 4 posts are filled up, hence 148 posts were filled up on contractual basis from National Rural Health Mission. It is stated that in pursuance to GR on February 2012 the said 148 posts will be regularised by reviewing the said posts or by making fresh appointments,” the affidavit said.
The affidavit was filed during the hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Pune resident Ravindra Talpe seeking a response to the death of 793 tribal students over the past decade due to poor facilities in tribal schools. The children had died after snake bites, scorpion bites, fever and other minor illnesses.
The government said that the parents of 453 children had been compensated for the deaths, and “the said amount is yet to be paid to remaining 340 parents.
“...The commissioner of the tribal department, Nashik, has already communicated to the principal secretary of the state to sanction the said amount...”
The PIL alleged that the steps take by the tribal department were “inadequate”, and that students in the ashram schools were at “great risk”. A division bench of Justices P V Hardas and P N Deshmukh had earlier expressed unhappiness over the steps taken by the government to prevent the deaths, and had asked the applicant to give suggestions to frame guidelines.
According to the PIL, the deaths had occurred due to the negligence of staff, who failed to ensure treatment on time. There are 29 project offices in the state, and nearly 1,100 ashram shalas, of which 547 are directly under the government. Another 552 are government-aided private schools. A total of over 4 lakh students study in the ashram shalas, the PIL said.