Set up in 1987, the school has never had permanent construction
SHOPIAN: A Government of India (GoI) funded Jawhar Navodaya Vidalaya at Aglar village of this south Kashmir district is running to ruin since the construction of all its buildings, undertaken by the Jammu and Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation (JKPCC), has been left incomplete since its very inception.
The school, according to official data, was established in 1987 but has failed to meet student needs in the way it once promised. Torched by unknown persons in 1992, it was closed down till 2003. “After its establishment, the school ran its operations out of semi-permanent sheds, but when the sheds were torched, the school remained shut for 12 years. After that, the old sheds were renovated and classes began again but without any infrastructure,” narrated a school staffer, adding that the school has only 169 students enrolled, a number which could cross 550 if accommodation was available.
Students from the school said that they had found the campus buildings incomplete ever since their admission. “We took admission here seeing the promises made by this central government school, but I have never found anything at this place like what they mentioned in terms of infrastructure,” said a student.
Aglar Jawhar Navodaya Vidalaya, according to official figures, has 90 Kanals of land, but the four incomplete buildings that stand here have left it orphaned. “It has been decades now since this school was begun. The reason it is unfinished is well known: this school is situated in a backward and less politically influential area,” lamented Bashir Ahmad, a local, while demanding speedy completion of the school’s infrastructure.
Another student said that there were no panes in the school’s windows.”The available sheds for hostel, office and classroom are a mockery of the central government’s scheme,” she said, adding that there were only four washrooms and four flush points for the students’ use. Other students said that while double decker beds were banned by the Navodaya Vidalaya laws, as students could fall from them, this school still uses such beds due to its lack of infrastructure.
A Class 12 girl student from the school told Kashmir Reader that she had visited several other Navodaya schools in Jammu and Kashmir, either for playing games or for inter-school competitions, and what she found was surprising for her. “The other Jawhar Navodaya Vidalayas in the state have university-like infrastructure. I was surprised that this scheme, which has such great infrastructure, has been completely denied to the students of this school,” she said.
Showkat Ahmad, a local of a neighbouring village, said that many people in the area want to admit their wards to this Jawhar Navodaya Vidalaya but the lack of infrastructure and accommodation facilities stop them from doing so.
Students even said that the school had no laboratory for science practicals and was thus putting their careers at risk. “After completing our education here, we wouldn’t be in a condition to compete with other students due to the lack of lab facilities,” another student from the school said.
School Principal Zareena Parveen told Kashmir Reader that the school’s employees had demonstrated repeatedly before the higher authorities but these had turned futile since no work was initiated. “We are providing every kind of service in our domain. Almost three decades have passed, but the infrastructure of the school is the same as when it was established. The PHE water supply scheme to the school has been defunct since years, we repeatedly wrote to the PHE authorities, but the services are not being provided to us,” she said adding that other Jawhar Navodaya Vidalayas in other districts of the state have superior infrastructure but this institution is the only one of its kind which has no building complete.
“We were forced to shift the students into incomplete class rooms due to the dearth of accommodation,” she said, adding that the school has urban-type hot line of electricity but the line has gone cold as its services are not being provided.
Ghulam Muhammad, a staffer who handles the school’s office work, said that the school had many files with copies of their repeated correspondence to the government, but their genuine and compulsory demands went unmet by the authorities every time. “Which staffer would like that their students should suffer? We want our students to be toppers in academic and job-oriented exams, but the available infrastructure doesn’t allow our students to prosper,” he laments.
The school authorities said that they have an intake capacity of 36 students for Class 6 when it should be more than 80.
Many experts and local inhabitants said that the JKPCC has violated the construction norms of the school’s buildings. However, the JKPCC authorities demised leaving the buildings incomplete and said the funds were never released. JKPCC General Manager Masood Ahmad Wangoo told Kashmir Reader, “The estimate cost of the project was Rs 1,410.45 lakhs but only Rs 598.73 lakhs were released by the Jawhar Navodaya Vidalaya, despite the work done having cost Rs 810.50 lakhs.” The corporation stopped work on the buildings in 2013 after no funds were released, he said.
“They (the Jawhar Navodaya Vidalaya authorities) recently told us to file a report on the cost of the buildings and give them details and work-done report. We have completed the process and next week we are forwarding them the report,” he said adding that Jawhar Navodaya Vidalaya wants them to have a Kupwara school-type design.