SRINAGAR In a major setback for the J&K school education department, the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has refused to release funds to pay the rent of schools functioning in private accommodations.
Over the years, a huge liability of rent has piled up in the education department against the accommodations hired to run the erstwhile Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) schools in JK state. The MHRD has denied release funds for the purpose citing poor performance of the JK government in completing the annual target of civil works over the past several years.
The state government couldnt take up construction works of schools under SSA scheme because of several reasons. With the result, the liabilities of civil works got piled up, an official said. During the previous years, MHRD used to provide Rs 2000 as rent component for each school per month. The rent was provided with a condition that the education department will complete the permanent campus of the schools within two years.
But department has a huge number of buildings which are left in mid-way or construction is yet to be started on them. All these schools are as of now operating in rented accommodation, the official said. The official said that the inordinate delay by the department to complete the construction of school buildings over past 10 years fumed the MHRD which refused to pay the rent for the schools.
The state was asked to complete the construction of the school buildings and shift the students to their permanent campuses, the official said. Since the inception of SSA scheme in JK state the state government received a target of around 12000 school buildings out of which only 9000 buildings have been completed while the rest are pending as liability with the state.
The department has a liability of civil works which were sanctioned during the fiscal year of 2006-2007. The work is halted due to cost escalation over the years and the students are accommodated in rented accommodation against which the department has not released rent for past several years, the official said.
The official said the MHRD had kept a provision of providing rent for school building for two years and the department was asked to complete the construction within two years after any new erstwhile SSA school was announced. But we have some schools which were announced in 2005 or 2006 and are still functioning in rented accommodation. Construction of the building has not been started till date, the official said.
Given the delay in paying rent for the private buildings, the proprietors threaten the school heads to lock the schools if the rent is not paid by the department. We have not received rent from past four years against the building which was taken by department to run its school.
We will lock the schools if the department didnt clear the rent liability of past three to four years, Muhammad Iqbal, a resident of Srinagar said. His three roomed building has been hired by education department to run SSA school for past 10 years now.
Secretary School education department, Sarita Chauhan said that the department is consolidating the details of rent liability of past years. We have many schools which have been merged with other schools in government building but the rent of previous years has not been paid yet. We will clear the liability in phased manner, she said. ( KNO )