The Maharashtra government has re-constituted a committee, which last year claimed that as many as 80 per cent of deaths that took place in ashramshalas across the state from 2001-16 could have been prevented, to implement safety norms in the ashramshalas. After finding that the safety norms are not being properly implemented in ashramshalas at the district level, the state tribal development department (TDD) has now entrusted the 11-member committee led by Dr Subhash Salunke, assistant regional director of South East Asia regional office of WHO, with the the task of guiding them in carrying out safety measures to prevent deaths and sexual abuse.
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The committee had conducted a probe on the deaths of students living in ashramshalas and submitted a report to the state government on October 19, 2016. The committee concluded that 793 of the 1,077 deaths which took place in ashramashalas between 2001 and 2016 could have been prevented.
For instance, the committee found that many students were falling ill because of a long gap between the time when evening meals and breakfast were served. The report noted the high potential risk of sexual harassment at these schools.
“The committee is expected to guide the TDD in implementing the recommendations they submitted in October,” said a senior official of TDD.
There are 529 government-run ashramshalas and 550 aided ashramshalas in the state with a student strength of 4,45,452.