The Salt Lake authorities are on a new pitch: open schools and close down ‘illegal’ ones. “We have drawn up plans to set up at least three schools in Salt Lake,” said Bidhannagar Municipality chairman Dilip Gupta on Monday.
The urban development ministry has allotted a plot in IA block, officials said, and work on a school will start soon. The other two schools, in wards 14 and 23, will also be taken up around the same time, they said. Funds are a major problem, and the civic body plans to start mobilising them at the earliest.
“Most of the students in the existing schools do not live in Salt Lake,” municipality chairman Gupta said. The present population of the township is around 200,000.“This is projected to shoot up to more than 700,000. So, we have to make sure that children need not go out of Salt Lake to study,” he added. A school in Duttabad, now dilapidated, will also be renovated, the chairman said.
According to councillor Radhanath Chand, part of the renovation is complete. “However, much more needs to be done, and we are trying to arrange for funds,” he said.
“Simultaneously, we will also serve notices on those institutions being run on plots not allocated for commercial educational institutions,” he added.
The mushrooming growth of schools, without a proper licence, is a bane for the civic body. “We do not have the infrastructure to check schools opening up on residential plots. We have been losing revenue to the tune of lakhs,” a senior municipality official complained.
He pegged the number of such schools at 50-plus, a maximum of them being pre-primary centres, and some high schools as well. “So, the authorities have decided to put a check on the schools. Notices have been sent already to a few of these institutions and more will follow in the near future,” the official asserted.
However, the Opposition Trinamul Congress feels stronger action is required. “Slapping notices under Section 200 of the Bengal Municipal Act is not serving the purpose. People are simply ignoring the notices,” claimed Sabyasachi Dutta, Trinamul councillor of ward 10. “Implementing the rule is important, and that is not being done,” he added. “There are nearly 54 plots in various blocks allotted to schools. But the civic authorities have decided to set up a school in IA block, represented by the ruling party,” he alleged.