For the students of Gualdihi Primary School in Baharagora block, studies mean a long, tiring walk of two kilometres everyday.
No, their school is not that far. They have to trudge along to attend classes at a middle school at Madhuabeda simply because their cradle has been taken over by cows and goats.
Cattle have unseated the 100-odd students of 25-year-old Gualdihi Primary School, about 80km from Jamshedpur, where a cowshed has come up even though the single-storey building remains, thanks to a dispute between the district education department and the so-called landowner, who suddenly turned up to claim the plot, measuring about 1,000sqft, after 20 years.
As a result, the school authorities have been forced to shift classes to Madhuabeda Middle School, which already has about 150 students.
“The actual owner of the land was one Mohan Munda, who had nobody in his family after his daughters got married. After he died, the villagers decided to give away the land to the government so that a school could be set up. Everything went on as per planned and classes were running smoothly till one Hari Munda and his sons showed up five years ago and claimed that the plot was theirs. What’s more surprising, they also produced documents,” said Ashwini Ghosh, a resident of Gualdihi.
Since then, the three-room school has been playing host to cows and goats.
But why did the landowners not claim the plot all these years? “We did not have the original papers. After procuring the same from the government, we soon approached the district education department and the students were shifted,” said Pintu Munda, Hari’s younger son.
Baharagora block development officer Ramvriksh Mahto said he was unaware of the development as he was new in this area. Satyendra Tripathi, block education extension officer, said they were helpless as Hari Munda had the original land document in his name.
The villagers, however, have come up with a solution on their own. A local resident, Vidyadhar Mandal, has offered to sell his 1,200sqft plot to the education department so that the school could be shifted there. “We want a school and I think I am capable of solving the problem. We now want the government to come up with a building,” said Mandal.
Tripathi said they had taken up Mandal’s proposal and the land had been registered. “We will start constructing the school building as soon as we get funds,” he said.