Hyderabad govt school students protest alleged encroachment of playground by Metro Rail

A parcel of land next to the school, which had been relocated due to Metro construction, has been cut off from students by a wall built by HMRL.
Hyderabad govt school students protest alleged encroachment of playground by Metro Rail in Chaderghat
Hyderabad govt school students protest alleged encroachment of playground by Metro Rail in Chaderghat
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Wednesday, November 24 was a school day, but students of City Model High School, a government school in Hyderabad’s Chaderghat, were not in their classrooms. Instead, they had gathered outside the school along with a few parents and teachers to fight for their school ground. A parcel of land of about 1,000 square yards had been lying unused next to their school for years, after the Hyderabad Metro Rail Ltd (HMRL) had built a wall, cutting off access to the school. To their dismay, a contractor had arrived to perform a ‘bhumi puja’ ceremony on the land on Wednesday, saying he was hired by HMRL to construct a parking lot and a commercial complex.

The school premises has three schools functioning within, with a strength of more than 1,500 students. According to activist Syed Bilal of Human Rights Forum, who was at the protest, the three schools — Government City Model Primary School and High School, and a Government Girls’ High School — were relocated due to Metro construction works and shifted to their current premises in 2015, in a building constructed by the HMRL. However, the land in front of the school, which was to be allotted for the school ground, has allegedly been encroached by HMRL, which has constructed a wall cutting off access to the school, according to Bilal.

Teachers from the school told Siasat.com that the wall was built at the time of Metro construction to protect students from construction accidents, and that HMRL had assured that it would be taken down after construction was completed. Despite repeated failed assurances, the school management as well as activists have been urging authorities to ensure the land is given to the schools. In 2019, the Hyderabad District Collector had even written to the Managing Director of HMRL asking that the land be handed over, with facilities for the students.

Bilal said that even as the school management, parents and students continued to hope that the promise would be kept, they were distressed to learn on Wednesday that HMRL planned to use it for commercial purposes.

In the absence of a proper ground, the students have been denied a space for outdoor activities like sports or a school assembly. There is insufficient space for the students to freely have lunch, and to play and socialise, Bilal said.

“The Right to Education Act mandates that schools have a proper playground. But the government has failed in ensuring that the students of these government schools, most of whom come from poor families, are provided this basic facility. The students are entitled to a proper playground. Their demand is that the land is restored to the school with amenities for a playground. Constructing shops and a parking lot on space meant for school children should not be allowed at any cost,” he added.

Following the protests, the construction activity has been put on hold. “We are not taking any action right now, we are holding the issue for further examination,” HMRL’s Public Relations Officer Krishnanand Malladi told TNM.

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