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New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that in Maharashtra, 740 students of residential schools in tribal areas have died in last 10 years.  The schools lack health services and basic amenities. The figures are reportedly 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.

The NHRC 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, said an NHRC release.  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, it said. Accordingly, it has issued a notice to the Government of Maharashtra through its Chief Secretary calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeksrelease, according to NHRC.

According to the media 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 utilized 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, 2016. Most of the students died due to dengue, malaria, food poisoning, suicide, drowning and even snake bite.

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