A school employee helps children cross the plywood plank over the open drain in front of Euro Kids, Morabadi, in Ranchi on Wednesday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
The Morabadi branch of Euro Kids, a popular preschool and kindergarten chain, has been wrapping up classes around half an hour before schedule these days. It is starting classes a tad late too.
The special routine is being followed for a month now just to ensure that its 180-odd students, aged between 1.8 years and 5.5 years, are able to safely cross a freshly constructed drain in front of the school that has been left uncovered by the callous civic authorities, exposing the children to mishaps.
A month back, Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) dug the 5ft wide and 9ft long drain. Snaking around the school’s boundary wall, the drainage outlet has got a cement coating in front of the main gate but not a cover while work is incomplete at the back gate, where the labourers have left behind mounds of sand and soil.
With completely cut off from the road, the Euro Kids authorities put a plywood plank over the drain in front of the main gate to facilitate passage of people. But the children, especially the toddlers, find it hard to cross the makeshift pathway on their own and have to be bodily lifted by their parents, school peons, conductors and drivers of buses taking them home.
The situation becomes worse when it rains and the drain starts overflowing, turning the spot into a mishap magnet.
Anuradha Chatterjee, mother of Playgroup student Divyanshu Chatterjee, said: “I am scared for my son’s safety ever since the drain was left uncovered. I don’t want to take any chance and come to pick my child every day even if that means extra work. I cannot trust anyone else to help him cross that drain.”
The school authorities claimed that they had apprised Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) officials of the danger posed by the open drain several times, but in vain.
“I spoke to RMC mayor Asha Lakra over phone and told her about the problems we are facing, but no action has been taken so far,” said centre head of Euro Kids, Morabadi, Anupama Sinha.
The school has two sessions — 8.30am-11am and 11am-1pm — but at present, classes are ending at least half an hour before the scheduled time so that the students can cross the drain safely.
“As the children have to be carried by our staff or their parents over the plywood plank to be put into school buses and other vehicles, we have to take out time for it,” Sinha said.
RMC CEO Manoj Kumar, who was busy at an RMC meeting with the mayor on Wednesday, said they would try to ensure that drainage work was completed soon so that the open drain could be covered.
“Agar drainage system ke liye ye gaddha kiya gaya hain to hum log dekenge ki ye kaam jaldi khatam ho jaye (If openings are being dug for drainage work, we will see to it that it gets over soon),” Kumar said.
Mayor Lakra also promised to act soon.