Rancho's school limps back to normalcy

Rancho's school limps back to normalcy

Located about 15 km from Leh on the Leh-Manali highway, the school had come into limelight after it was shown as Rancho’s (Aamir’s) school in the film. The actor is hoping to visit the school soon.

While the grey stone building remains intact along with the amphitheatre or mandala as it is called, slush and boulders have filled up its interiors.

But undeterred, the school administration is all set to soon re-start classes for class VIII students. As you walk in to the school built 10 years ago and affiliated to the State Board, all you find is the dried slush in the form of sand that rolled down the hills on the intervening night of August 5 and 6. The cloudbursts and flash floods claimed 166 lives in the Ladakh region.

The mud-laden notice board and playgrounds covered with slush and boulders bear testimony to havoc wreaked by the cloudbursts.The computer room which housed 18 machines has mud layers. Ironically, the only poster that is up on the walls is an instruction chart on ‘how to shut down a computer’. It seems nature has its own way.
“We have suffered a lot of damage. The computers along with the science laboratory have all been destroyed. The boulders and the weight of the slush have broken many of the white boards and other teaching equipment while the teaching aids have been washed away along with sports equipments,” school Principal Prasad Eledath, a Keralite, told PTI.

Sharing the traumatic experience of about 175 students who stay in the school hostel, Kamal Thakur, the warden from Sikkim said, “While students from one portion of the hostel were immediately evacuated to safer areas, rescuing others was very difficult.”
Thakur, along with other staff, tied ropes around their waist and formed a bridge of sorts to get the children to safer areas. “The children were so afraid that they just clinged on to our backs. They were shaken,” he said. A big relief for the school administration has been the number of volunteers from the US, the UK, Canada and Japan among others who have come down and are helping in taking the muck out.

The school which was slated to celebrate its 10th anniversary on September 24 is likely to scale down the festivities keeping in mind the death toll in the tragedy.

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