Perumbalam witnessed as many as 50 deaths due to medical emergencies alone in the past one year alone

Protesting Kerala boy swims to school demanding bridge govt slaps him with noticeRepresentative Image
news News Saturday, June 18, 2016 - 16:37

14-year old Arjun Santhosh decided that the only way to catch the Alapuzha district authorities’ eye was to swim to school every day. Hailing from the Perumbalam village in Alapuzha, the villagers’ demand for a 700-metre bridge to connect their village –an island in itself in the Vembanad lake- to the mainland has fell on deaf ears for almost a quarter of a century.

Obviously, all the 10000-odd residents of Perumbalam have no choice but to depend on boats which are notorious for its lack of punctuality and security features. Arjun who is a ninth standard student in a school at Poothottta is hence invariably late and almost always gets punished for the same.

That is when Arjun zeroed in on this novel form of protest, and now goes to school armed with a swimsuit and goggles that he dons every time he hits the waters to swim for over three kilometres which is the distance to his school.

The authorities’ lackadaisical approach to the issue is evident when one considers that the teenager had to swim for ten consecutive days before they even acknowledged his protest and in a manner steeped in typical bureaucratic laggard which sought to send him a notice instead, for indulging in such risk.

Alapuzha district collector R Girija was reportedly quoted as saying that it was dangerous for Arjun –being a minor- to attempt to swim especially in the rainy season. If something were to happen to him, they would be held responsible and so, just to save face apparently, a decision to issue a notice to him was taken.

Such blatant apathy, despite the fact that Perumbalam witnessed as many as 50 deaths due to medical emergencies alone in the past one year alone. Transportation has always been a major problem here, as it takes more than 30 minutes to reach the mainland.

Meanwhile, Arjun has -for now- decided to wait and watch to see if the authorities come up with concrete measures to address the lingering issue, failing which, he is all set to resume his swim with renewed vigour.