Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

At a time when high voltage electioneering is running across Odisha ahead of the 2024 General Elections notwithstanding the prevailing scorching heat, villagers in Balasore district have threatened poll boycott over the closure of a school in their area.

As per reports, Odisha government has ordered the closure of Kantabani Netra Mohan ME School in Kantabani village under Bhograi block in the district. In response, the villagers have expressed their strong resentment over the development.

As per the locals, there is no school nearby the village. The little children have to walk three kilometers to pursue their education in another school which is too dangerous and time consuming.

The villagers have moved Orissa High Court against the decision of the government to close the school. They have also threatened to boycott the upcoming election if the government’s decision is not changed soon.

Meanwhile, in response to the revolt by the villagers, Bhograi Block Education Officer said that the matter is currently sub judice and a decision in this regard will be taken soon after the court verdict.

“Our children have to walk for 3 km daily to reach the nearby school; there is always a risk of life here. We will not vote and also not let anyone vote here. We will also not allow any political leader into our village till the school here is not opened,” said a villager, Kavita Sahoo.

“We will boycott the poll if the school here is not opened. We will not let the administration use the school as a polling booth during the election. Besides, no political leaders will be allowed to enter our village,” warned another villager, Ramesh Chandra Das.

Speaking on the issue, Bhograi community education official, Kamlochan Biswal said, “It was a grant-in-aid school and not a government school. Such schools run till there are teachers. The teachers engaged in the school have already retired. As per the government’s norms, if there is no school within a radius of 3 km of the schools that are going to be closed, schools can be opened for classes from 6 to 8.”