No cars, ACs for Uttarakhand govt till schools get chairs

HIGHLIGHTS

  • “Don’t all officers sit on cushioned chairs? So why not students?”, the Uttarakhand HC asked.
  • The court had directed the hill state’s government in November 2016 to provide “at least bare minimum infrastructure”.

File photo used for representation.

File photo used for representation.

NAINITAL: Riled over non-implementation of its order to provide basic facilities in government schools of Uttarakhand, the high court on Thursday restrained the state government from purchasing any luxurious item such as cars, air-conditioners and furniture for itself till further order. The court also pulled up secretary (education) and asked why salaries of all the bureaucrats should not be stopped till the time the order is implemented.

Describing the situation as “sorry state of affairs,” the court asked, “Don’t all officers sit on cushioned chairs? So why not students?”

The court had directed the hill state’s government in November 2016 to provide “at least bare minimum infrastructure” with basic facilities in all government-run schools.

The court ordered the secretary (finance) to appear before it on Friday and explain why allocation of funds in the matter was delayed. The order came on a PIL filed in 2014 by one Deepak Rana, a Dehradun resident, who alleged lack of basic facilities in a government school.

The division bench of justices Rajiv Sharma and Alok Singh said in the order: “Since the state government miserably failed to provide minimum bare facilities in schools like benches, desks, blackboards, hygienic separate toilets for boys and girls, water purifiers and ceiling fans, the state government is restrained from buying luxurious cars, furniture and air conditioners, etc, till further orders of this court.”

The secretary (education), in his submission to the court, said that a budget of Rs 903 crore was sent to the state finance department on March 14, 2017, “but no reply has been received by the education department so far”. The official of the education department cited budget constraints in implementing the court orders.

 To this, the court remarked that it is the duty of the state to ensure education to every child by providing basic facilities vital to it. The bench also pointed out the need of toilets and how health of a student depends on it. “The state must give top most priority to education,” the bench said.
 Terming the state bureaucracy “insensitive”, the court remarked: “Comply with the judgment or stop the salary of all gazetted officers of the state.”

 On November 19, 2016, the HC had ordered the state to provide all government schools with essential articles including benches, desks, blackboards (with chalk and duster), computers, as well as a well-stacked library and a well-equipped science laboratory within a period of three months.
 The HC also ordered construction of hygienic toilets for boys and girls separately. Expressing its angst on the state of education in the state, the HC had remarked, “It is a pity that even after more than 68 years of independence, we are making children sit on mats.”
[“Source-ndtv”]