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Follow rules, hit fast track
- School opening and upgrade to be cleared in seven days

The state government has promised to fast-track the process of issuing no-objection certificates (NOCs) to new schools and of approving proposals for upgrade.

“If a school meets the criteria, it will not have to wait for more than a week after submitting an application for NOC or permission for an upgrade,” school education minister Partha De said in the Assembly on Monday.

The government now takes 18 to 24 months to issue the NOC and at least a year to approve a proposal for an upgrade, sources in the education department said.

Around 150 applications for NOCs to open ICSE, CBSE and Madhyamik schools are pending with the government, which is also sitting on more than 1,000 proposals for upgrade, from the secondary to the plus-two level, or from junior high (up to Class VIII) to the secondary level.

Those planning to open schools have welcomed the minister’s announcement but are keeping their fingers crossed over its implementation.

“The delay in granting NOCs is caused by a complicated procedure the government follows. Besides, there is the usual red-tapism,” said the principal of a school awaiting the certificate for close to two years. “The political will shown in the Assembly to speed things up is fine, but we doubt whether things will really improve on the ground.”

Three MLAs — Sadhan Pande and Arjun Singh (both Trinamul Congress) and Debaprasad Sarkar (SUCI) — had alleged that NOCs are issued on the basis of recommendations from “influential persons”.

Partha De asserted: “There will be no catch in the process. Schools fulfilling the criteria laid down by the state will get the certificates.”

The rulebook lists a things-to-do for schools to make the NOC cut, from having land and building of its own to a “clear” recruitment policy (see box). De clarified that the government will enforce these rules on all categories of schools, including those run by minority organisations.

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