Alappuzha: The Kerala State Water Transport Department is earning accolades for its decision to run a passenger boat for the sole purpose of ferrying a schoolgirl for her examination.
The department's heart-warming gesture is being praised across social media as yet another sign of the importance being given to public education in Kerala.
The 70-seater boat of the department was sent to ferry Sandra Babu, a 17-year-old student, who had to appear for her two remaining plus one examinations last month. The exams were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sandra, who stays in a remote backwater island in Kuttanad in Alappuzha district, had to appear for the examination on Friday and Saturday (May 29, 30) at Kanjiram in Kottayam district. Boats are the only means of transport in this region. The boats were not plying when the dates of the rescheduled examination were announced.
Sandra approached the department as her parents, both daily-wagers, could not find a way to get her to th exam hall.
KSWTD Director Shaji V Nair said the department did not think twice to extend a helping hand to the girl. The student, from Alappuzha, had to write the examination in Kottayam district and they had to deviate from the normal route to pick and drop her. But this was the only option as it was the question of a child's future. Transport minister A K Saseendran also supported the move, he told PTI.
The department had to take special permission as it had to conduct inter-district service. Only intra-district transportation is allowed due to the lockdown.
Normally, the student has to take another boat to reach the embarkation point of the KSWTD.
A five-member crew, which was entrusted with the task of transporting the girl, took the boat to the nearest point from her home, and she walked about five km to reach this point, another official said.
The boat dropped her, waited for the examination to be over and dropped her back home on both days, Nair, whose daughter also appeared for the plus one examination, said.
"I am also a parent and my daughter was also appearing for the examination. I can understand their situation," he said.
Only the basic fare for students was charged from Sandra.
Another girl, Sreedevi, walked seven km, took a motorcycle ride, and travelled in an Ambulance to cover about 150 km from a remote tribal hamlet to reach her examination centre at Thrissur and appeared for the Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) examination recently.
The 10th standard student travelled from a tribal hamlet situated in the midst of a forest, near Malakkapara, 90 km from the Tamil Nadu-Valpara Pollachi border to appear for the examination.
(With inputs from PTI)