The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court has ordered the district collector of Aurangabad to provide a proper boat with an operator and life jackets for the residents of Bhiv Dhanora village in that district who had been using makeshift rafts to travel across a snake-infested dam reservoir.
The court directed the district collector to ensure that the village is provided with a boat, preferably two boats, along with specialized operators within 12 hours.
The boats will primarily be used by school children for ferrying to their schools. They can also be used by sick individuals, the elderly, and pregnant women before and after school hours to reach the nearest medical facilities, as noted by the court.
“Can anyone imagine young girls and male students above the age of seven preparing a thermocol sheet to stay afloat and using bamboo sticks with plastic square pieces attached to the edges as makeshift paddles to navigate their way through the turbulent backwaters of the Jayakwadi Dam to reach school for their education?” questioned the division bench of Justices RV Ghuge and YG Khobragade.
The High Court took up the case on its own initiative after multiple news reports highlighted the plight of approximately 15 children from Bhiv Dhanora village who were using thick thermocol sheets to travel across the Jayakwadi Dam reservoir to reach school every day.
“We are at a loss for words to express our appreciation for the determination of these girls and boys, who come from farming families in the village, and who have shown remarkable determination in pursuing their education by traveling to and from school through these backwaters,” commented the court.
The court also expressed its appreciation for the “unprecedented gesture” of amicus curiae advocate Pushkar Shendurnikar for submitting a first-hand report.
Bhiv Dhanora village is located just five kilometers from the Aurangabad-Pune national highway and is surrounded by the Jayakwadi Dam backwaters, Shivna River, and Lahuri River.