Chandigarh: “Water samples of 2922 Government Schools have failed”-admits Punjab Government- “This is a very serious matter. Every teacher and student has the right to have pure and safe drinking water. Government is directed to take immediate steps for supplying pure and safe drinking water to them through RO systems or otherwise.”-Orders the High Court:
During the resumed hearing of a PIL filed by Advocate H.C. Arora, before a division Bench of HC comprising Justices S.K. Mittal and H.S. Sidhu today, an affidavit was filed by Punjab Government under signatures of Pardeep Kumar Aggarwal, Director General, School Education, Punjab, clearly admitting that testing of water samples of drinking water in the Government Schools (Primary, Middle, High and Senior Secondary) has been conducted and completed with the help of Department of Health and Rural Water Supply and Sanitation, Punjab. Testing of water samples was done in 13182 Primary Schools, out of which water samples failed in 2035 such Primary Schools. Similarly, drinking water samples of 6487 Upper Primary Schools were taken, out of which 887 samples failed. The affidavit further stated that necessary instructions have been issued to all the Schools, where samples have failed, to take the necessary action as per requirement like ‘treatment of water, arrangement of supply from water tank/ supply established by the Water Supply and Sanitation. Furthermore, Reverse Osmosis Systems are also being installed out of welfare funds or with the help of Public Health Department, wherever there is requirement.”
Taking the matter with utmost concern, the HC Bench in its order dictated in open Court observed “This is a very serious matter. Every teacher and student has the right to have pure and safe drinking water. Government is directed to take immediate steps for supplying pure and safe drinking water to them through RO systems or otherwise.”
The affidavit also referred to requirement of separate toilets in Government schools, and stated that “Funds for 13 boys toilets and 283 separate toilets for girls, have been released. The construction of 98 toilets (7 boys toilets and 91 Girls toilets) has been completed and remaining 198 (6 boys toilets and 192 Girls toilets) is in progress. The same is expected to be completed in the next-three months.”
As regards construction of alternate class rooms in place of 1296 demolished unsafe class rooms, the Assistant Solicitor General of India, Mr. Chetan Mittal, apprised the HC Bench that the Project Approval Board of the Central Government has approved funds for these 1296 new class rooms and those funds would be released to State of Punjab as per requirement. The HC thereupon directed that the State Government shall start construction of these 1296 class rooms also immediately on receipt of funds from the Board.
Regarding status of reconstruction of demolished unsafe class rooms, it is stated that “funds for construction of 269 such class rooms have been released to the concerned District Education Officers in October, 2014. 7 such class rooms have been completed so far; 45 class rooms are nearly ready and only furnishing is pending, and 79 class rooms are at plaster level. The respective DEOs have been directed to ensure that the pending construction of class rooms is completed within the next 3 months.”
The HC Bench directed the Punjab Government to file a status report in compliance of today’s order, at least one week before next date of hearing 17th July, 2015.