Mumbai: For the children of Sathe Nagar, a slum on the eastern fringes of Mumbai, walking to school is a health hazard and a balancing act. Every day, they have to wade through knee-deep sewage and garbage to cross a 25 metre drain in order to reach their school.
A lone bridge connects Sathe Nagar to the rest of the city, but it means a 45 minute detour for students. This shorter route exposes them to serious infections and diseases, in an area that's already plagued by chronic urban malnutrition.
Often, the students are forced to take the route through the drain to avoid being punished at school for being late.
"Yes, I get scared to cross the drain. But it's near from here so we go this way. If we take the bridge, it gets late and then we are punished in school... We can cross the drain and easily catch a train from Mankhurd station," said a student Shabina.
The demand for an additional pedestrian bridge has fallen on deaf years till now. The BJP has blamed the city's municipal corporation which is controlled by the Shiv Sena.
"Our local MLA has been here for five years. While campaigning for the election to secure a second tenure he promised that he will make the bridge the following year but till now nothing is yet done," local BJP leader Mohammed Hussain Khan told NDTV.
This part on Mumbai's outskirts has a huge slum population with one of the poorest social indicators in the city.
When NDTV contacted BJP lawmaker Kirit Somaiya, he reiterated the BJP's promise, "I have had a meeting with municipal officials and we will provide connectivity to Sathe Nagar. We will build a pedestrian bridge there."
Till the civic authorities come good on the commitment, this route will continue to be a health hazard for the students each time they go to school.