Schoolchildren raise a stink about garbage

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Bangalore, September 30:  Rain or shine, the students of the Government Tamil Higher Primary School on Thimmaiah Road in Shivajinagar always wear a jacket or a sweater. No, it is not because it is always freezing out there, but it is the best the children can do to shield themselves from mosquitoes.

Sounds like an exaggeration? Not until you visit the school premises. You are likely to find cows and dogs waiting at the gate to welcome you amid piles of garbage dumped right outside the school, which happens to be the transition point for garbage collectors to load and unload waste. As you enter the school you will see garbage, liquor bottles, cigarette packets and leftover food that are thrown all around the school that is the temple for learning for 27 students.

Children complain
Pointing out to the dirt inside her school, Jyotika S., a sixth standard student, says, “Before leaving home I make sure I have taken my handkerchief and my sweater. In fact, even if I forget my books, I can manage, but if I forget my handkerchief, I cannot sit through the classes.”

Sangeetha Y., a fifth standard student, says that the teachers keep the windows in the class always shut not because they fear that students might day dream but to save the students the sight of garbage outside the window. Added to this is another problem. “As the compound wall is damaged, people use the school premises to attend to nature’s call,” she says. In fact, even as the child was narrating their woes to this reporter, two men entered the school premises and relieved themselves unmindful of the fact that they were inconveniencing children in the institution. No wonder with all the garbage and people relieving themselves on the premises, the first thing that one notices while entering the premises is the stench.

“The housekeeping staff member in our school always has a broom in her hand and is at work. But how much can she clean? ,”says Sangeetha. She adds, “People who come and dirty our school are our own neighbours and friends. They come here because there are no toilets in our area and at the public toilets they have to pay to use them.”

A teacher, who wanted to be anonymous, also pointed out that the lack of any garbage dumping site had forced the entire neighbourhood to use the school as a dumping spot.

Ask the teachers if they have written to the authorities concerned about the garbage being dumped in front of the school and they being inconvenienced, they will pull out a file titled ‘Garbage’. The file has copies of all the letters that they have written to the councillor concerned and the BBMP’s engineer in the past several years, but in vain. Responding to this, BBMP officials, who initially passed the buck to one another, later said that the garbage collection point would be shifted and all the garbage would be cleared from the school premises at the earliest.

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