Going to school every morning has become a herculean task for children from a tiny village in Gujarat's Chhota Udepur district as they have no option but to cross a river, which in spate after torrential rains.
Rolling up their trousers, these children, mostly tribals aged 5 to 10 years, have to wade through water of the fast-flowing Orsang river passing through the Bokadiya village, where the road leading to their government-run school has got submerged.
They take around 20 minutes to cross the river and reach the primary school, located about one km away on the other side of the river, village sarpanch (head) Naarsing Rathwa told PTI.
"Most of the times, these children cross the river by forming a human chain to prevent them from falling into the water. Those still quite young have to travel on their parents' shoulders to reach the school," he said.
Rathwa said the district authorities and the state government earlier promised to construct a bridge over the river in the village, having a population of around 800, but nothing was done.
The primary school's principal, Bhavesh Makwana, said children were finding it quite difficult to wade through the water to attend classes every day.
Ghanshyam Rathwa, a Class 5 student at the school, said he was scared of falling while crossing the river.
Another villager said there were snakes in the river, which was also a cause of concern. "Crossing the river to reach the school is a big problem for the children," the sarpanch said, adding that even getting an ambulance in case of an emergency was difficult because of the flooded village road.
Congress' Rajya Sabha MP Naransinh Rathwa, who is a native of Chhota Udepur, said he has appealed to the Gujarat government and the Centre to facilitate speedy construction of a bridge on the Orsang river, so that the children can go to school without worrying about their safety.
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