Odisha students wade through croc-infested waters to appear exams

Bhubaneswar: Even though it gives her Goosebumps and sends shivers down her body, she gathers all her courage to stay away from the jaws of crocodiles and make it to the examination centre to appear her matric exams.

Simarani Swain, a class 10 student of Rajkanika block in Kendrapara shares the ordeal along with 50 other batch mates of Nalapahi, Takhinadia and Ekamania villages.

These children on a daily basis have to wade through the waters of Brahmani river at a place where it’s infested with crocodiles to appear for their class 10 board exams at Keradagada Jagannath High School in Rajnagar block.

Students who cross the river have to go knee to waist-deep into water to reach a boat because the river flows quite close to coast and harbouring is difficult near the banks due to the effect of tides.

“We frequently see crocs while crossing the river by foot and face a lot of difficulties. We also have to suffer from cold and flu due to frequent travelling through water,” said Simarani.

“Sometimes we have to request the centre superintendant to let us in since we often get late while crossing the river with caution,” said another student.

The problem is not new as local residents have been braving all odds amid presence of fierce reptiles since long and are dependent on boats to cross the river all year-long. The area is infested with crocodiles as it is a part of the famous Bhitarkanika National Park.

But what is shocking is that locals have alleged that there have been no attempts from the administration to help them.

“We are living under perilous conditions and are very concerned. If the government could construct a bridge for us then everyone will be benefitted,” said Rajanikanta Biswal, a local resident.

District Education Officer Udaynath Majhi said as per the guidelines of the state government, students have been assigned examination centres within 5 kms of their own school.

“If there are any other schools nearby then the examination centre can be shifted or else we would try to apprise the board about the matter and see if anything can be done,” said Majhi.