81% govt schools without electricity in Budgam

81% govt schools without electricity in Budgam
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RTI uncovers dismal conditions

IRSHAD KHAN

SRINAGAR: More than 81 percent of government-run schools in central Kashmir’s Budgam district are bereft of electricity, the School Education Department has revealed.
In reply to a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by activist Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat, the Chief Education Officer (CEO) Budgam has informed that as many as 1,036 schools in the district were “without proper electricity connection”.
As the CEO’s reply discloses, out of the district’s total 1,278 government-run schools, 81.06 percent are functioning without power.
The data the CEO revealed comes weeks after Bhat filed an RTI application at the Directorate of School Education Kashmir (DSEK), seeking information across Kashmir division on the various facilities in place at all the state’s government-run schools, including toilets for girls and electricity connections.
In the application, Bhat had primarily sought the total number of girls’ schools in Kashmir.
He had also sought information about the number of girls’ schools without a toilet facility and on the number of schools without a proper electricity connection, boundary wall and drinking water facility.
Instead of straightaway providing the information sought about Kashmir’s schools, the DSEK has passed the buck to lower-rung officials, including CEOs and Zonal Education Officers.
In Budgam district, the CEO said, there are 108 girls’ schools in total including seven higher secondary schools, 16 high schools, 77 middle schools and eight Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (which are residential schools for girls belonging to the Educationally Backward Blocks).
While “all” the girls’ schools had a washroom facility, “there are dysfunctional toilets, which need some funding” from the DSEK and Samagra Shiksha, the CEO has said.
The CEO Budgam’s reply has also informed that 940 government-run schools in the district were without a boundary wall, “out of which 283 have been approved under Samagra Shiksha Plan 2018-19 and the remaining would be covered under state plan in near future”.
Quoting officials, Kashmir Reader has already reported in July that 70 percent of the government schools were without a boundary wall.
“All schools have drinking water facility. However, 248 schools have not proper and direct connectivity of water. The issue has been communicated to the PHE department and Director School Education Kashmir for necessary action,” the CEO has also informed.
Talking to Kashmir Reader, CEO, Budgam, Ravouf Ahmad Shahmari said that the schools in the district without an electricity connection were “at locations where there is no transmission line”.
“We need a transmission line to the schools and the institutions have to undertake an agreement, which requires funding. We have taken up the matter with the PDD,” Shahmari said.
DSEK, G N Itoo said that they required “additional funds for the job” which as per him were still “awaited”.