Buffaloes chew on cud as students of the state-run primary school in Anand Nagar, Ranchi, look on on Thursday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Moo, er, boo to that. Buffaloes chewing cud and gamblers playing cards and enjoying their bottle are not your average primary school students.
But bovines, gamblers and tipplers feel at home at the state-run primary school campus at Anand Nagar, a 1.9 decimal plot beside Harmu rivulet in the heart of Ranchi.
The culprit is familiar — the school lacks a boundary wall, an open invitation to four and two legged encroachers.
Thursday morning was like any other. Some 70 children were studying under the guidance of eight teachers, a lady worker was washing utensils for midday meal and buffaloes ambled amid pats of cow dung.
Evenings, apparently, are when gamblers outnumber the buffaloes. “As the school has no boundary wall, it is used by gamblers after school hours. Many consume liquor. If you want to stop them, you will get thrashed,” said a resident.
School headmistress Sangeeta Kumari has made peace with the buffaloes and admitted she had “heard about gamblers”. But she quickly added that after school hours she was not supposed to keep vigil.
Asked why her school doesn’t have a boundary wall, she expressed helplessness.
“A sum of Rs 1.21 lakh was given by Jharkhand Education Project Council (JEPC) for the wall in June 2012 but due to local hurdles the work could not start. I wrote to district superintendent of education Jayant Kumar Mishra on September 2, 2013, circle officer Sunil Singh on September 3, 2013, SSP Prabhat Kumar on October 18, 2013 and DC Vinay Kumar Choubey on February 21, 2014. But, no step was taken to construct the wall. JEPC engineer Rajesh Kumar is looking into the matter now,” she said.
Kumar revealed the “local hurdle” “Some residents raised objections over the construction of the boundary wall. They said the site of the school was earlier demarcated for building a temple,” he said.
At the same time, he claimed the issue had been “sorted out now”. “Very soon, there will be a boundary wall. There is a plan to plaster the floors and walls of the school building as well,” he added.
Councillor Arun Kumar Jha of ward No. 37 of RMC, under which the school falls, said there was “local politics”. “But, things will sort out soon,” he claimed. Murari Pandey, an advocate of the locality, supported Jha. “Some people want a community hall beside the school premise. The issue will be resolved soon,” he also claimed.
“We hear the Anand Nagar school is important as it is associated with a child project (National Child Labour Project to eliminate child labour). Regular children apart, the school is supposed to teach working minors. But with so many problems, most people here prefer private schools even if they can’t afford it,” said milkman Raj Kumar Rai.
There is a dry well before the school. Too bad, it can’t be a dustbin for all its problems.