Visakhapatnam: Former Minister Konatala Ramakrishna has complained to the State Human Rights Commission on the bad condition of the social welfare hostels in the Agency as well as in the plain areas of north Andhra districts during winter and pleaded for a direction to the State government authorities to take corrective action.
“The winter this year began ahead of its usual arrival in November. The winter chill is much more severe in agency areas than in the plains. The minimum temperature usually falls to as low as 3 degrees Celsius. bring to your notice that 80 per cent of the tribal population lives in Uttarandhra’s three districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam. I submit that the severe winter has brought about sub-human conditions particularly for students residing in social welfare hostels,” he stated.
“All these students belong to the Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes and all of them come from families, which are below poverty line. Importantly, all the students live far away from their families and relatives. This means they just do not have any safety net or any emotional support systems in harsh conditions,” he stated.
He said that the students’ suffering was worsened by the absence of blankets and warm clothing. The government in the last three years was not supplying let alone blankets, even basic sleeping mats or rugs to lay on the floor before one lies down to sleep.
“I need not emphasise to you the torture of bathing with cold water early in the morning for the simple reason that the hostels do not have facilities to heat water. I further submit that most of the hostels and even schools, which double up as hostels in the night, do not have windows. It is known that the chills turn more severe even with the mildest of breeze. In the agency areas the pre-dawn breeze is sharp, that makes the bone-biting chill too hard to bear. For this reason, alone, several students have fallen ill. In such cases, there is no medical care available. These students shivering with fever trudge long distances to find a primary health centre. When even basic medicines like paracetamol are not available at PHCs the students are left to their own fate,” he stated.