Pictures of children sweeping floors and cleaning garbage with brooms in municipal schools in New Delhi on Monday angered the Delhi High Court, which took the municipal corporations to task asking them whether teaching took place there at all. “Is there any teaching taking place in the schools? Shall we call the students here? You teach them like this? Children are carrying brooms in their hands. Shall we order inspection,” a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said after the pictures of the “deplorable conditions” at some schools were shown to it. “How come the premises are so dirty. What about the toilets,” the bench asked some officials and an MCD school principal, present in the court room.
Terming the condition of the schools as “really unfortunate”, the bench asked the principal “Don’t you do inspection in the school?” It also said that the principals and invigilators of the schools were “not working properly”.
The court’s remarks came after it was shown pictures of some schools under North Delhi Municipal Corporation and East Delhi Municipal Corporation, in which children were seen sweeping the floors and the campus were filled with garbage. The court was hearing a PIL by NGO Justice for All, which through their counsel Khagesh Jha had said that the schools stink because the garbage were not cleaned regularly.
Observing that “the report include photos of schools, manifesting deplorable conditions in schools,” the bench asked the petitioner to give a list of people who could conduct random inspection of the schools and listed the matter for September 19. However, the counsel for a civic body said that the residents of the neighbouring colonies threw the garbage in the school, which has filed a complaint with the police. He also maintained that the trash was being lifted from the premises on a daily basis.
The high court had earlier asked the municipal corporations officials to fall in line, chiding them saying “is this how you treat your children?” “Quit your jobs and sit at home,” it had told the officials of the Delhi government and the municipal corporations for their failure to implement daily garbage collection from city schools.
On May 17, the bench had directed the three MCDs, the New Delhi Municipal Council and Delhi Cantonment Board to ensure that garbage was collected from all schools under their territorial jurisdiction and disposed of. It had ordered that garbage removal shall be effected on a daily basis and the authorities would intimate to the schools of the time when the collection and removal of garbage would be undertaken.
The bench had said the principals of the schools would also be held liable if their institutions are not found clean and hygiene and directed that this direction be communicated to the principals by the municipal bodies and other agencies.
The petition has claimed that multiple agencies in Delhi were busy shifting blame on each other and there was no coordination between them to improve the infrastructure for the students. It also raised issue of poor condition of toilets in these schools. “The contracts of cleaning of toilets have been awarded to the lowest bidders and amount is so inadequate that it is almost impossible to clean the toilets. The staff appointed by the contractors are inadequate in number. As a result, the toilets are not clean,” the plea has said.