‘50 buildings abandoned in Kupwara, work on 179 buildings halted in Baramulla’
In a glaring example of wastage of resources, the school education department has spent a whopping Rs 702 lakh on the construction of school buildings in Kupwara and Baramulla districts, while none of these buildings has been put to use.
The official figures reveal that Rs 220.78 lakh has been spent for construction of as many as 56 buildings by education department in Kupwara district. However, all the buildings remain abandoned with no watch and ward from the department.
“The construction work on these buildings was stopped midway by the contractor and these structures have been abandoned,” an official said who wished not to be named.
The official documents reveal that the work had been stopped either at the plinth or lintel level.
These buildings include four middle schools, 26 primary schools, 22 additional classrooms and three headmaster rooms.
“Funds for these buildings were sanctioned under erstwhile SSA scheme with an aim to provide adequate accommodation to students. Unfortunately, the department didn’t take pains to get these buildings completed and put them in use for the students,” the official said.
In Baramulla district, the school education department has spent Rs 482 lakhs on 179 buildings. But the work on these buildings has been halted.
Pertinently, both Baramulla and Kupwara in north Kashmir have been selected for the “aspirational districts programme” of NITI Aayog launched by Prime Minister of India (PMO) in January 2018 keeping in view “their poor education, health sector and water resources”.
Moreover, the education department in Baramulla district has kept Rs 405 lakhs unutilized which was released for construction of around 120 school buildings for students who are without proper classrooms.
These buildings include 99 additional classrooms, two five roomed and 19 three roomed buildings.
“But work on these buildings was not taken up till date due to various issues. The department kept funds unutilized instead of resolving issues which created hiccups for constriction of buildings,” the official said.
The official said work on some school buildings was not taken up due to non-availability of land.
"In some cases the work didn’t start on time and resulted in cost escalation due to which department couldn’t fulfil the formality to start the construction," he said.
The official said the ministry of human resource development (MHRD) has refused to provide additional funds to meet out cost escalation.
Director school education Kashmir G N Itoo meanwhile said the state government has agreed to release Rs 10 crore— Rs 5 crore each for Kashmir and Jammu to complete work on abandoned buildings.
"It will take time to complete all the buildings but we will do it in a phased manner," he said.