March 14, 2022
DHAKA – More than 500 students and teachers of two government schools have been suffering immensely as local farmers dry and process tobacco leaves on their campus premises in Lalmonirhat’s Aditmari upazila.
The educational institutions are Durgapur Government Primary School and Durgapur High School, sharing the same premises.
According to the schools’ authorities, farmers forcibly dry and process their tobacco leaves on the playground even after multiple teachers’ protests.
The farmers keep the playgrounds occupied from morning to afternoon every day during this season, depriving students of routine sports, they said
Talking to The Daily Star, the teachers of the schools said this practice imposes students to health hazards.
There are incidents of students falling sick in the classroom because of the stench, said one of the teachers.
According to the students, some of their classmates stopped going to the institutions for the stench.
Sahidul Islam, headmaster of Durgapur High School, said the farmers ignore any protest against them and continue.
“At this point, we are left with no other option but to take help from the law enforcement agencies in this regard,” he said.
Razia Parveen, headmaster of Durgapur Government Primary School, echoed Shahidul’s statement.
Contacted, Muhammad Habibullah Talukder Ruskin, associate prof and head of cancer epidemiology, National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital, said such activities would surely impose the students to health risks.
It should not be allowed to process tobacco leaves in a certain radius of schools or hospitals, he added.
Meanwhile, talking to The Daily Star, farmers said they have been doing the same for years and no one ever asked them to stop.
Local farmer Minajul Haque, 55, said they were using the playgrounds as there was no other open field in the village.
“Our children also study here. We understand the students face a little problem,” he said.
Another farmer in the locality Ashraful Islam, 48, said at least 20 to 25 farmers get benefit from the playgrounds.