Students of Khagaria and Saharsa have been gifted bicycles by the government but they have no roads to ride them on.
Over 1,000 students from a dozen villages around the Dhamara Ghat railway station — the site of the train tragedy on Monday that killed 28 people — are benefactors of the state government’s bicycle scheme.
Hailing from Dhamara, Bangalia, Rohiyar, Balkunda, Dhamnia, Sarsawa, Thuthi and Bachha of Khagaria district and Sambar, Kabirpur, Sauth and Dhirkhi of Saharsa district, most of them go to either Chautham High School or Malpa High School in Chautham, around 210km northeast of Patna.
As there are no roads in the area, most of the students cover the distance of around 10km either on foot or in trains, while their bicycles gather dust at home.
For the students, the journey is no less than a daily adventure that leaves them sapped of energy when they return home.
Describing the odyssey that they have to undertake every day to go to school, Amrita, a Class IX student of Malpa High School and resident of Bangalia, said: “We are ready to go to school by 7.30am. We have to catch a train to Badla Ghat at Dhamara Ghat station at 8am. From there (Badla), we have to walk 4km.”
If they miss the train, they have to walk for two-and-a-half hours.
In any case, on reaching the school after such a long ordeal, they hardly have any energy to concentrate on their studies.
For Amrita’s classmate Khushboo, the ordeal takes up so much time and energy that she hardly gets time to study at home.
“With the meagre income of my father, what other option do I have?” she said.
The retinue of students have to take the 5pm train in the evening at Badla Ghat to return home. If they miss the train, it is another long trek back home.
“We have been given bicycles but in the lack of roads, they are useless for us,” said Khushboo.
While the students travel for long hours, their parents worry at home.
Upendra Singh, the mukhiya of Bachha panchayat of Chautham block in Khagaria district, said: “We send our children to school but are always scared if they get late. We don’t know if any thing has happened to them or if they have been kidnapped. In the absence of roads, it is impossible for them to go to school except in trains.”