School Safety: JK Govt fails to avail funds under vital scheme

NSSP A Damp Squib, Courtesy ‘Official Apathy, Inefficiency’

ZAHID MAQBOOL

Srinagar, Dec 30: Despite the State falling under ‘high-risk earthquake zone’, the J&K Government is delaying the implementation of the National School Safety Programme, drawing flak from people. The programme is aimed at ensuring safety of children in across J&K.
 The NSSP is a 100 per cent centrally-sponsored scheme initiated by the Government of India to ensure safety of children during earthquakes by raising necessary infrastructure and imparting requisite awareness among the stakeholders.
 The scheme involves an estimated cost of Rs. 48.47 crores but has turned to be a damp squib due to the ‘callous approach’ of the state government in opening the requisite financial accounts with the central nodal agency.
 Jammu and Kashmir is one among 22 states/Union territories chosen under the programme. “The Government selected district Kupwara and district Leh for the scheme. The criterion for selecting the districts was based on their placement under seismic zones IV and V. Since J&K belongs to high risk Seismic Zone V, it was given preference under the programme,” an official said.
 He said the scheme required to be implemented in J&K in letter and spirit. “ It was aimed at promoting the culture of safety in schools by initiating policy-level change, capacity building of officials, teachers, students and other stakeholders by undertaking Information, Education and Communication activities and promoting non-structural mitigation measures and demonstrative structural retrofitting in few schools,” the official said.
 According to the rules formulated for disbursing of funds to States, the States/UTs shall open a separate lien account in bank for receiving funds under the NSSP. 30 per cent grant in assistance for the first year ( 2010-2011) would be given without any pre-condition. “For the second year 60 percent funds were to be disbursed to the States after the state governments provide a Physical and Financial report of implementation during the year-1 along with Utilization Certificate,” read the financial rules of the scheme.
 The rules state that documents had to be submitted by 30th of June 2012. “But unfortunately the state government failed to submit them in time and hence couldn’t avail the funding,” the sources said.
 When contacted, the Deputy Commissioner, Kupwara, Sarmand Hafeez, said: “We have sent our teachers for training under the scheme and have conducted various mock drills in different schools in Kupwara as well.” 
 Asked whether state government has received funds from Center, he said: “Earlier there was problem with the scheme buut now we have opened the account and funds will start flowing.”

Lastupdate on : Sun, 30 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 30 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 31 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST




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