Mumbai: Asserting that measures taken were inadequate, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday expressed unhappiness over the steps taken by Maharashtra government to prevent death of tribal students studying in ashram schools in the state due to alleged negligence of staff.
A division bench of Justices P V Hardas and P N Deshmukh was hearing a PIL that alleged death of 793 children in the last one decade due to snake bites, scorpion bites, fever and minor illness.
The PIL alleged the children had died due to negligence of staff who did not ensure that proper treatment was given to them on time.
The petition, filed by Nasik resident Ravindra Talpe, said there were 1,100 ashram residential schools imparting education to 4,50,000 students in the state.
The PIL demanded that ex-gratia be granted to the parents of students who had died during their stay in ashram schools, in accordance with a Government Resolution.
Government pleader Aruna Pai informed the court that 453 parents were given ex-gratia payment, while 340 parents have yet to be disbursed the ex-gratia amount.
She said the state did not have enough grant to pay ex-gratia and whenever funds were available, the state would make the payment to the remaining parents.
The government pleader further informed that the state had taken preventive measures to prevent death of children such as regular health check-ups, pest control, first aid and appointment of district health officers.
However, the bench felt that these steps were inadequate and observed that the lives of tribal children studying in ashram schools were at a great risk. "The first aid box would not come to their help if the children were bitten by a snake or a scorpion," the Judges said.
The pleader said the government had appointed 185 staff and purchased 35 jeeps for ashram schools in the state. She said primary health centres existed within a radius of 1.5 km from the schools and that these centres would provide help to students in case of urgent medical need.