‘Misuse’ of huge funds under Central Schemes detected
Infra to be used for Patwar Khanas, Anganwari Centres
JAMMU, Jan 17: Shocking it may sound but it is a harsh reality that nearly 2000 school buildings have been found abandoned across the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir as these were constructed mainly on the interventions of the politicians by misusing the funds sanctioned under two Centrally Sponsored Schemes and without any actual requirement.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that during a detailed exercise conducted by the School Education Department on the directions of Chief Secretary Dr Arun Kumar Mehta it has come to the fore that nearly 2000 school buildings are actually lying abandoned in different districts of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and not being put to use for imparting education to the students during the past quite long time.
Accordingly, the lists of these school buildings have been furnished to the Government by the School Education Department so that the infrastructure can be put to use particularly for opening of Patwar Khanas, Anganwari Centres, Residential Homes, Haats of Industries and Commerce Department etc.
“The process of formally handing over these buildings to the concerned departments for opening of their field offices has already been set into motion and will be completed as expeditiously as possible as per the directions of the Government”, sources informed.
Actually, these school buildings were constructed by utilizing the funds released by the Government of India under Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) despite having no requirement of the same at all, sources said, adding “the politicians, who were at the helm of affairs during the successive Governments in the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir, got these schools sanctioned and buildings constructed mainly keeping in view their vote bank and without ascertaining the actual ground situation”.
Under SSA scheme, which was aimed at universalization of elementary education in a time bound manner by providing free and compulsory education to all children falling in the age group of six to 14 years, there was a provision for opening of new Primary Schools besides up-gradation of schools to Upper Primary level.
Similarly, under Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), which was aimed at enhancing access to secondary education and improve its quality, there was a provision to provide a Secondary School within a reasonable distance to increase the enrolment rate of students.
“However, the provisions of these schemes were also used by the politicians for opening of schools even in those areas where there was no necessity of the same and for this they even managed fictitious figures about the number of out of school children”, sources said, adding “further the politicians got large number of youth engaged under Rehbar-e-Taleem (ReT) scheme for such schools only keeping in mind their vote bank”.
They disclosed that successive Governments opened new schools in a haphazard manner which resulted in dwindling of the enrolment in schools year after year. “The basic reason for the downfall in the enrolment was the schools were not established as per the requirement and no set norms were followed as well”, sources added.
In the year 2015, the then Government had initiated steps towards merger of schools with less enrolment to spare the infrastructure for optimum utilization elsewhere and to help the School Education Department in balancing the Public-Teacher-Ratio in the schools and provide adequate staff to the institutions to some extent.
“The latest figures of abandoned school buildings clearly reveals as to what extent the Centrally Sponsored Schemes were misused by the politicians just for the sake of their vote bank”, sources said, adding “it is the well calculated move of the present dispensation to put all these unused buildings for field offices of other departments which otherwise don’t have adequate infrastructure despite having direct dealing with the public”.
EXCELSIOR made repeated calls to the Commissioner Secretary School Education Department to ascertain the measures being taken by the Government on the connected issues but there was no response. Even other officers at the Civil Secretariat preferred not to respond.