Plea in Kerala HC questions delay in Ernakulam Collector’s rain holiday announcement

Parents were unhappy after Ernakulam District Collector Renu Raj announced a holiday for schools on August 4 only at 8.30 am, by which time many students had already left home.
File image of Kerala High Court
File image of Kerala High Court
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As Kerala continues to see unabated rains, the District Collector of Ernakulam came under fire for delay in announcing a holiday for students on Thursday, August 5. Parents were upset with Collector Renu Raj’s delay in the announcement, as many children had already left for school, amid the major floods and landslides being reported in the state. A man has moved the Kerala High Court, seeking a report from the collector explaining the delay in making the announcement. The petition also sought directives to the state government to have guidelines in place for declaration of holidays under special circumstances.

On Thursday, Renu Raj announced on her Facebook page at about 8.30 am that schools in the district would be shut that day, in light of sudden rains that inundated many places overnight. However, parents argued that as schools usually begin at 8, the collector’s announcement came too late and many children had already left for school. The collector then said that those children who had already left for school could stay back there, and many schools had made arrangements to drop the students back home in the afternoon.

The petition in the High Court said that the collector’s announcement caused major confusion among parents and students. The petitioner called the move “illogical”, and asked the Supreme Court to order the state government to come up with guidelines on declaring public holidays so as to avoid confusion.

The rains continue to wreak havoc in the state, with the famed Sabarimala temple — which only opens for a few days in a year — announcing restrictions for devotees. Devotees have been barred from entering the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple in Pathanamthitta in the wake of rising water levels in the river Pampa. From now on, people will not be allowed to enter the Sannidhanam from the river, and those in Sannidhanam are expected to climb down the hill by 6 pm.

People living in low-lying areas or near banks of rivers have been warned to exercise caution, as dams across the state record dangerously high water levels. A total of 14 relief camps have been set up in the state and 5,849 people belonging to 1,732 families have been moved to the camps. Over a period of just seven days — from July 29 to August 4 — about 46 people have lost their lives in rain-related incidents, the Kerala government said.

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