Over 1,000 students from a Murshidabad school on Tuesday protested against the widening of a mud road in front of their school that would require palm trees on both sides of a kilometre-long stretch.
In response to the students’ protest, panchayat officials submitted a written undertaking that the road would extend to six feet in width that would not require razing of any tree.
The road is being widened under the state government’s Rastashree scheme, which was inaugurated by chief minister Mamata Banerjee in Singur on Tuesday.
Senior students of the Nabipur Saralabala High School in Murshidabad’s Raninagar locked the school gates by 10am on Tuesday, barring the entry of teachers and junior students. They then asked teachers to bring panchayat officials for a talk on felling trees to widen the road.
“We told students that we would call panchayat officials after they let us inside, but they refused,” said teacher-in-charge Ezajul Hossain, who then called up Raninagar-II pradhan Shefali Biwi.
“We are in favour to change the mud road into concrete, but the initial plan of nine-foot widening meant the felling of the flanking lines of palm trees, which we were against. We told panchayat officials so,” said Class XI student Enamul Kabir, adding that the issue was resolved amicably.
“The trees beautify the stretch to our school. When we learned of the scheme’s need to fell the trees, we immediately decided to protest,” said another student, explaining that the protest was held on Tuesday as the Rastashree scheme was formally launched on Monday.
The mud road in question connects Nabipur market to the village’s residential locality and passes by the school. School authorities said they did not know of students’ objections to the razing of trees until Tuesday’s protest.
Panchayat pradhan Shefali Biwi confirmed that no tree would be cut and road specifications “were modified in the light of students’ concerns”.
Students said they later apologised to teachers for barring their entry.
The Nabipur Saralabala High School is coeducational with 1,500 students and 40 teachers.