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For schools in Lalgarh, promised aid still a pipe dream

Posted by Admin on December 26, 2009

A month after the state government promised to give Rs 24 lakh to the district administration in the Maoist-affected Lalgarh-Jhargram belt to restore schools in Lalgarh and arrange for special classes for its students, the money is yet to reach the schools.

Most of the schools continue to be occupied by the security forces even as the December 31 deadline set by the Calcutta High Court to get these vacated is just six days away.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had announced a month ago the students of these schools would get special coaching classes so that the current academic year is not spoilt.

Twenty-two schools in the region were occupied by paramilitary troops for nearly seven months but the district officials in West Midnapore, in which Lalgarh falls, said all schools except three or four were already vacated. “Other than 3-4 schools in the district, all others have been vacated. Around 16 schools are not fit to house classes,” said DM N S Nigam.

According to a district official, schools in Jhargram, Lalgarh, Katapahari, Goaltore, Ramgarh, Pingboni and Midnapore town are in a state of disrepair. These schools need at least Rs 1 lakh each for restoration, he said. In the first week of December, Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty had sanctioned Rs 14.78 lakh for the restoration of these schools and Rs 8.73 lakh for providing special coaching classes to students. But Nigam said the money was yet to reach the district. “We are yet to receive the funds. But we will receive it soon.”

Meanwhile, two state government departments — Public Health Engineering (PHE) and Public Works Department (PWD) — have only compounded the matters, locking horns with each other over the construction of camps for the joint forces.

Earlier, state Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen had issued an order saying joint forces will vacate the schools in West Midnapore by July 18 once the camps were ready. But the PHE and the PWD could build only two of the 22 camps needed till November last week. When reached for comments, both PHE minister Gautam Deb and PWD minister Kshiti Goswami cited security threat for the delay in starting construction. IE

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