Flood hit schools take backseat on govt’s priority agenda

Despite much fanfare on the issue, the J&K government has put the renovation and restoration of flood-hit schools at the back burner as the department has received a meagre amount under Prime Ministers (PM’s) package for reconstruction of the schools.

A top official in the education department said the renovation of flood-hit schools remained least priority with the state government as only Rs 5 crores out of proposed Rs 90 crore were released to Directorate of School Education Kashmir (DSEK) to start the restoration of the schools which were fully or severely damaged during September 2014 floods.

As per the official figures, as many as 1096 school buildings of Primary, Middle, High and Higher Secondary schools were damaged during the September 2014 floods that created havoc across valley, however, least has been done to renovate the damaged buildings.

“The restoration work hit a road block as government of India squeezed the release of funds for the infrastructural up-gradation of the schools that were damaged in 2014 deluge,” the official said.

The officials said the planning department in DSEK after receiving district wise Detailed Project Report for renovation of flood-hit schools proposed an amount of Rs 90 crore to the J&K government which was later submitted to GoI, however, the latter refused to release the funds and instead asked the department to slash the proposed cost.

“The DPRs were revised and an amount of Rs 45 crore was proposed which was again rejected by GoI. At the end we were asked to slash down the DPRs to Rs 10 crore of which only Rs 5 crore were released in the past more than two years for renovation and reconstruction of the flood-affected school buildings in the Valley,” the official said.

Post floods the then education minister had asked the concerned school heads to carry out the minimal and affordable restoration works out of the local school funds which however didn’t suffice the actual needs.

“The damages caused by the deadly deluge can’t be managed out of local school funds, given the enrolment and school fee and other amount charged by the school authorities from students,” the official said.

To top it all, the recent order by J&K government announcing waiver for the girl students up to class 12 has worsened the situation in Girl schools as the school heads have been left starving for want of funds to take minor works in the schools.

“This year the heads in all Girls’ schools have no money to utilize in schools,” the official said.

Post floods, Directorate of School Education Kashmir (DSEK) assessed the flood damages and submitted a Detailed Project Report (DPR) of Rs 90 crore to the government.

As per the official figures, the number of flood-affected schools in Srinagar district was 222 including 64 completely damaged buildings, which were declared unsafe by the Roads and Buildings department.

The damages to the buildings in Srinagar is worth Rs 22 crore against which the department has released a meagre amount under PMs package for restoration of 12 flood affected schools.

Of the total fully damaged buildings include 427 Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) primary schools, 48 Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) middle schools and 20 buildings of High and Higher Secondary schools.

The partially damaged buildings include 481 SSA Primary schools, 49 RMSA Middle schools and 71 High and Higher Secondary schools.

The estimated cost for restoration includes Rs 68.32 crore for SSA schools and 8.97 crore for RMSA schools.

“The assessment was done by the team of officials from revenue, R&B and education department,” officials said.

The students in most of the schools take classes inside the unsafe structures which has put lives of hundreds of students at risk.

“We don’t have any other option than to accommodate students in the unsafe buildings,” said a school headmaster wishing not to be named.

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