While hearing a suo motu petition regarding the school girls of Satara district who cross lakes and jungles to go to school every day, Bombay High Court made remarks about Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. The bench headed by Justice PB Varale said, “His village has no road, no bridge but has two helipads.”
Chief Minister Eknath Shinde hails from Satara, Maharashtra.
Justice Varale further said, “Even if the village has two helipads, we don’t have an objection, but there should be an endeavour to provide good roads so that the children can go to school. We want to see roads for children so that they can finish their education and help society.”
The suo motu petition was taken up by Justice Varale’s bench after seeing a news article in India Today’s Mumbai Tak web portal, a few months ago. The news article had shown the hardship that the children of Khirkhindi village in the Satara district, especially the girls, go through, to attend school every day.
After the issue was raised, Shinde’s son, Shrikant, who is a Member of Parliament, donated a boat for the children to cross the backwaters of the Koyna dam.
The issue about Shinde’s helipad arose as the amicus curie appointed in the case, Sanjeev Kadam, told the court that with the change in government and the new chief minister hailing from the same area as these children, there should be a change in the scenario. Kadam said, “The chief minister knows the area. His own village is also affected by the rising water level of the Koyna dam.”
The bench then asked the leader, “In this changed scenario, why have you not made more positive efforts?”
Justice Varale further added, “We will be happy if something is done permanently for these boys and girls in terms of getting education, if possible at their doorstep, if not, there should be residential hostels etc.”
In addition to this, the court was earlier informed that because of being project-affected, many families had been earlier shifted to Bhiwandi in the Thane district, but there were a few families who refused to budge.
Kadam told the court on Thursday that the families said, “We have no objection to the Sahyadri tiger project but the rehabilitation could be done in a better manner. When I spoke to the families, they said that they don’t want to go to Bhiwandi but they are ok being rehabilitated in Satara or neighbouring areas.”
The bench then directed the Chief Secretary of the Maharashtra government to convene a meeting with the secretaries of the concerned state departments and come up with a positive and permanent solution.
“The Chief Secretary after the meeting shall, along with his opinion, prepare a report giving a permanent solution to the issues raised in the present matter,” the court said. The bench directed that the report is to be submitted to the court along with an affidavit of an officer not below the rank of Deputy Secretary of the state’s General Administration Department by August 30.
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