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Town schools minus loos

Unspeakable stinker in industrial satellite Adityapur

PEE PAIN: Satyendra Narayan High School in Adityapur where students are forced to pee near the school boundary wall as the lone toilet (below) outside the campus is in a dilapidated state. (Animesh Sengupta)

Jamshedpur: Older children in government schools which lack toilets are ordered to stay at home if they have a stomach ache. No, not in any remote Jharkhand village but in Adityapur, the steel city's prosperous industrial satellite where high-rises, eateries and high-end stores, symbols of Aspiring India, are mushrooming by the hour.

Adityapur Municipal Council (AMC), which will also be assessed under Swachh Survekshan on February 12, has an unthinkable problem on its hands.

Most of the 240 government-run schools in Gamharia block, under which Adityapur falls, do not have functional toilets, district sources say. Of these, Adityapur alone has 150 state-run schools, including a dozen high schools, 40 middle and rest primary.

High schools without toilets give standing instructions to students, especially girls, to stay at home if they have a bad tummy. For older schoolgirls, open defecation is not just an embarrassment but also a security threat.

The Telegraph on Wednesday visited toilet-less Satyendra Narayan High School, on Road 19 in Adityapur, is barely 6km from the heart of Jamshedpur. "We do not have a toilet," said Anurag Prasad, a Class X student of the co-educational school. "We relieve ourselves inside a convenient corner of the school boundary wall," he said when asked how he managed.

His female classmates were too shy to answer the question.

Headmistress Usha Mahto explained the pathetic state of affairs. "The school has 325 students, including 143 girls. There is a urinal for the girls, but no toilet. Even the lady teachers face immense problem in answering nature's call," she said, adding they had a toilet outside campus but it was in a ruined state since four-five years. "We requested the education department to set up toilets for both girls and boys, but nothing has been done in this regard so far," Mahto said.

Contacted, Fulmani Khalko, district superintendent of education (DSE), Seraikela-Kharsawan, claimed all schools had toilets, but due to lack of proper maintenance, they were not functional in some.

"Every government school gets yearly funds for infrastructure repair. Though we haven't received the funds of 2017-18, when we get the money, we will use it to repair the damaged toilets," Khalko said.

The fact that the most government schools in Adityapur did not have functional toilets came to light when a local social outfit, Narendra Modi Friends' Club approached the AMC to set up toilets in these schools. Outfit patron Satish Sharma said, "When we approached the AMC in this matter in view of the ongoing Swachh mission, the municipal body replied that setting up or repairing toilets on premises of any government-run school was the responsibility of the education department."

How will the AMC face the swachh survey this year?

AMC chairperson Radha Sandil said they were aware that most government schools not having functional loos would affect their ranking in Swachh Survekshan.

"The survey may take place in Adityapur any time next week," Sandil said. "At best we can set up Sulabh Sauchalayas (pay-and-use toilets) close to some schools to make it accessible to students and the general public. We inaugurated such a Sulabh Sauchalaya at ward 6 near a government high school on Thursday and asked the operator to enable students access it for free."

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