The National Human Rights Commission has issued a notice to Maharashtra government over reported deaths of 740 students of residential schools in tribal areas in the state in the last 10 years. The Commission has taken suo motu cognisance of a media report and said the "negligence" on the part of the Department of Tribal Development and the school authorities is a violation of right to life, dignity and equality of the students. The NHRC, in a statement today said, it has issued the notice to the state's Chief Secretary and sought a detailed report in the matter within four weeks. As per reports, the schools lack health services and basic amenities and the figures are based on an internal report of the State Tribal Development Department. As per the norms, the students should be screened at least "twice a year" but government agencies are "not following" it. According to a media report, 740 students of residential schools in tribal areas in the state died in the last 10 years. The Commission has observed that the contents of the news report are shocking and painful. The students coming from the tribal communities generally belong to poor families.
The school authorities, as their lawful guardians, are responsible for their welfare, safety and health care needs, the statement said. According to the report, there are 552 residential schools for tribal students in the state run by the Tribal Development Department. "A number of posts are lying vacant. The budgetary provisions are not being utilised in a proper manner. The issue of the deaths of students in residential schools of tribal areas came to light when a 12-year-old girl from a residential school in Palghar district died on October 7. "Most of the students died of dengue, malaria, food poisoning, suicide, drowning and even snake bite," it said.
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