The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) had budgeted Rs 8 crore for procuring benches for schools in 2009. Two years on, students at most MCD schools continue to sit on the floor. An MCD school at Shahdara is one such school. Twenty years after it was built, kids are yet to sit on a bench.
In some cases, MCD has built porta cabins for students who earlier had to sit in tents. However, the cabins are so crammed that children feel suffocated. “We have 281 students in our school and only four porta cabins. Some students even have to sit outside the cabins,” said R P Pal, principal, Mustafabad MCD school. A group of such students recently sent 140 postcards to the chief justice of Delhi high court, highlighting their plight.
Justices Dipak Misra and Manmohan have converted these postcards into a public interest litigation and the case came up for hearing earlier this month. The court had summoned education committee director Prem Lata after photographs, depicting the dismal state of these schools, were submitted before it as evidence. Delhi HC counsel Ashok Aggarwal inspected three such schools along with MCD commissioner K S Mehra and both were shocked to find the sorry state of the schools. “Right now, almost 10 lakh children don’t go to schools and if tomorrow they turn up, there is no space for them. MCD officials keep themselves busy in making policies and plans for students that never take off. ,” said Aggarwal.
MCD is to provide 70,000 benches to its schools. But only 12,000 benches were bought in 2009. “These benches are inspected by the Shri Ram laboratory. It checks the durability of the wood used to make these benches and only after its green signal, we can purchase them. But the lab has put an objection,” said Mahindra Nagpal, the chairman of the education committee.
Only one question - what happened to the unspent money?