As floods recede, students worry for their marksheets, documents
“It’s like the water has robbed me of all my qualifications. All my passing certificates, marksheets, my identity proofs, are gone,”
- Parijat Joshi
The flood water has receded from most of the villages in Sangli and Kolhapur. The people at the relief camps have made it back home. They have lost a lot, their shelters, their livelihood, their lives have been disrupted. The relief work by the government and the NGOs has gained a new momentum, as people strive to clean up what the flood has left behind and start afresh. However, now that the sky is clear, a new worry has grasped the mind of Pradeep Chougule, a resident of Dhavali, a small village near Miraj.
A student of second year B.Sc., Pradeep has lost almost all his certificates, academic and otherwise.
“It’s like the water has robbed me of all my qualifications. All my passing certificates, marksheets, my identity proofs, are gone,” sighed Pradeep.
Pradeep’s worries are echoed by almost all the youngsters in the flood affected areas in Western Maharashtra. While some of them managed to save their essential documents before being rescued, most of them could not.
“I know that my passing certificates of class X and XII could be retrieved, I can apply for a duplicate certificate. But what about the rest of the documents? I had recently acquired the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) certificate, would they issue me a duplicate one for that too?” questioned Pradeep as he hurried to stand in the queue to get the compensation money being distributed in his village.
“There are more pressing issues to be dealt with now. We have lost everything. But we also need these documents to be retrieved soon. I know several students who have lost their caste certificates, their domicile certificates. Getting a domicile certificate in the first place is a hectic task. There are long queues, multiple visits to government offices, and a lot of form-filling and waiting involved. We all need some assurance that getting these certificates made for the second time now would be easier and faster, as our admissions, jobs depend on those,” Pradeep added.
“I have lost my MSCIT certificate,” said a young boy innocently who has recently passed class XII examination. MSCIT is a computer literacy course in Maharashtra that many look upto for employment. Another girl who is in class XI said, “I have also lost all the Taekwondo certificates that I had won for the past 10 years. I am never going to get those back.”
The Kolhapur Divisional Board of the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE) has shown readiness to issue duplicate passing certificates to the students on priority, so has the Shivaji University in Kolhapur, Ashok Bhosale, Secretary of State Board added that the students would have to apply for the certificates individually.
“Passing certificates are private and sensitive documents, so everyone will have to apply individually. In light of the given events though, the Board will support the applicants. The fees for the duplicate certificates too are not much, starting from Rs 200,” Bhosale told Indie Journal.
Along with the educational certificates, AADHAR Cards is the next concern for the students and others alike. While it seems relatively more convenient to acquire duplicate copies of AADHAR online, in the flood affected villages, it’s not that easy.
“When the AADHAR Cards were first issued, many in the village didn’t have mobile numbers, many don’t use the same number as before anymore. To get a duplicate of the AADHAR, we need to get a One-Time-Password (OTP) on our phones. Everyone is now worried about how to get new AADHAR Cards, since everything these days is practically dependent on that document,” Pradeep said.
“There are several hundreds of students in the flood affected areas whose certificates are either lost or spoiled in the water. Not just the students, but some of the older ones too have lost their birth certificates, leaving certificates, etc. It’s going to be more difficult for them to get duplicates, as the schools and other offices here too were flooded. The government needs to find a solution to this,” Haji Gulam Husen Bujruk, who has been volunteering in the flood-relief activities in Sangli and Miraj said.
However, a volunteer working at a relief camp in Sangli said that it would be a very difficult process. “The government would need to ensure that these students had indeed already been issued these documents once, and that nobody is trying to take undue advantage of a tragic disaster. Even if they agree, it would be a long process,” he said.
When enquired at the District Collectorate in Sangli, Indie Journal was told that no directives have been issued in this regard yet, as the administration is deeply indulged in the relief work.
“Detailed guidelines about the same will soon be issued as and when the cases regarding the loss of certificates in the flood arise. We also request the students to try to acquire their certificates from the educational institutes where they might have deposited them earlier,” said a source at the Collectorate on condition of anonymity. However, whether or not will there be a provision for duplicate certificates remains unclear as of now.
Meanwhile, Pradeep is now trying to find out who else has been affected by the flood this way. “I know many from my village who have lost their documents. I know that people have been trying to make a list of those like me. I think if we request them in large numbers, to help us with acquiring duplicates of educational and other documents like AADHAR Cards with minimum hassle,” he added optimistically.
Parijat Joshi is a freelance journalist.