The Telegraph
Monday , August 11 , 2014
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Pledged: land worth Rs 1crore

- Farmer eases school hurdle

Behrampore, Aug. 10: Land for industry may be a major hurdle in Bengal but a farmer in a small Murshidabad village has made it a little easier for a school project in the pipeline for almost a year by pledging his one-acre plot worth Rs 1 crore.

Bellal Hossain, a farmer in Ransagar, told a gathering of villagers today that he would donate his one-acre farmland to the trust that has been planning a residential school for the past year.

Bellal, who is the secretary of the Al Helal Education Trust, insisted on the need for a residential school because most students in the area belong to farmer families and fail to concentrate on their studies at home as they have to devote time in the fields.

“We don’t have a residential school within 20km of the village. It is difficult for children from farmer families to attend classes every day in the morning because they often have to work in the fields. Their studies are hampered. If they stay in hostels and among their peers, they can study uninterrupted,” said Bellal, a high school pass-out.

The trust, comprising villagers of the area, has been planning the residential school for over a year. Land had been an issue, till farmer Bellal pledged his plot today. The trust is now exploring options to arrange for funds.

Mahizul Islam, the president of the trust, described Bellal’s gesture as “encouraging”. He said the villagers would approach bidi traders in the area for funds.

The 27-year-old graduate said: “A group of villagers and I have been thinking about this project for over a year. We had tried looking for land here and there but to no avail. Now that that the land problem is solved, we have decided to approach bidi traders for funds. Residents are also welcome to contribute.”

Mahizul said the school would start with two classes — pre-primary and Class I. “It will also have a hostel building. Gradually as we get more funds, we will complete the school. It will be run on a no-profit-no-loss basis. We also have to apply for an affiliation to the district inspector of schools (primary),” Mahizul said.

The gesture by the Murshidabad farmer to donate land and promote education in his village and at least 12 nearby hamlets comes in a district that at 8 per cent witnesses one of the highest rate of school dropouts in the state.

Asked what prompted him to do so, Bellal, who owns five more acres of farmland, said there was only one government-aided primary school in the vicinity.

“The high school is far away. One has to travel at least 5km to study in that school in Murshidabad town.”

This is not the first time that Bellal’s family of farmers has donated land for development of the village.

“Bellal’s father had donated land for the construction of a mosque and an idgah,” trust president Mahizul said.

According to local brokers who deal in land, the plot pledged by Bellal is located beside the Murshidabad-Kapasdanga state highway, where the current price for one cottah is Rs 1.5 lakh.

“Three-and-a-half bighas (a little over an acre) of land means 70 cottahs. That would cost about Rs 1.05 crore,” a land broker in Murshidabad town said, asked about Bellal’s plot.

Both of Bellal’s sons studied in institutions outside the village. Elder son Abul Kader Zelani completed his graduation from Murshidabad and is currently looking for a job.

The farmer’s younger son, Samaul Sheikh, has completed his honours in English from Aligarh Muslim University and is now pursuing his MA in English from University of Hyderabad. Bellal’s daughter Rehena Parveen is married and lives in the same village.

“My father keeps to himself. I am proud of his gesture to pledge the land. My father has high regards for education and has always encouraged us to study further. His dream is that students from this school will one day become doctors, engineers, scientists or bureaucrats, ” elder son Abdul said.

District officials and other villagers termed the move to pledge the land “exemplary”.

Retired government employee and resident of adjoining Kapasdanga, Abdul Majid, said Bellal’s contribution towards promoting education would set “high standards”.

“A residential school in this backward area will be beneficial for poor students. We are ready to offer any kind of co-operation for this noble cause,” said Abdul Majid.