Mumbai: More than 50 children who were left orphan after their farmer parents committed suicide due to the agrarian distress have been touring the length and breadth of Maharashtra at present, appealing the people not to take the drastic step.
These children are inmates of `Adhartirth Ashram', set up by Trimbakrao Gaikwad at Tupadevi in Trimbakeshwar tehsil of Nashik district.
The children have travelled through 12 districts and 47 tehsils and urged the farmers not to commit suicide and spare their children the agony of becoming orphans, Gaikwad said.
"At present 283 children from across the state are living in the Ashram, while 1,477 children are on waiting list for admission," said Gaikwad, who set up the institution in 2007.
"We picked up children from families where nobody was ready to take care of them after the father committed suicide. Sometimes Sarpanchs brought children to our Ashram as even close relatives were not ready to take care of them. Even the district collectors approached us in some cases and handed charge of such children," he added.
According to Gaikwad, most of these children are from open category communities, and they don't get facilities like free education or admission at government-funded residential ashram schools which those from SC/ ST communities can avail of.
"We do not get any grant from the government. We depend on farmers and people living near the Ashram. They donate rice, clothes, food left at marriage functions, etc. But it is not enough and children hardly get two square meals," he said.
The Ashram had approached the then Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan during the Congress-NCP rule seeking permission to convert the Ashram into a residential school.
"Chief Minister (Devendra) Fadnavis has given a special approval for ashram (residential) school but the actual government resolution is yet to be published," he said....