More than 4,000 families reside in the seven villages in the Kalingavaram panchayat near Shoolagiri Taluk and around 1,000 students are studying in schools and colleges in those villages.
Of them, those hailing from Kalingavaram village are the most affected as it does not have any mobile tower. The other villages are Mattampalli, Agraharam, Kodithimmanapalli, Javukkupallam, Thinnoor and Gurumurthi Kottai. Over the last two years, the students have been attending their classes online due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. “However, we couldn’t get access to online classes due to poor connectivity from our houses. There has been no cell phone tower. Hence, we are forced to climb atop the water tank to get feeble tower connectivity. Sometimes, we also attend the class from nearby hillock,” said R Karthik, a Class 9 student from Kalingavaram village.
Students could be found perched on the steps of the tank located at a height of more than 25 feet. Parents of the students also expressed anguish that their wards were forced to miss out on online classes and they couldn’t perform well in online exams due to lack of connectivity. “Obviously they have also lost interest in learning,” said S Muthuvinayagam, a farmer.
The villagers said that they have been demanding to set up a cell phone tower in their village for a long time. They claimed that they couldn’t contact the 108 ambulance services during emergencies and tend to lose out lives in accidents too due to poor connectivity