The Delhi Education department has claimed that it has received only a single one-acre plot of land from the DDA in the past four years to construct new schools. With this, officials have alleged that the largest obstacle in expanding education infrastructure to neglected parts of the city is land availability.
On Wednesday, The Indian Express had reported on the lack of a government school in Prem Nagar — an unauthorised colony in Outer Delhi with a population running into lakhs — as a result of which children have to make a difficult journey to schools, including walking across railway tracks. A local NGO has approached the Delhi High Court to appeal for the setting up of a senior secondary school in the area by the government, and the case is currently in court.
“We have no spare land in that area. If the DDA or the gaon sabha concerned provides us with the land, we will construct a school there. This is a problem across unauthorised colonies in Delhi. They have been developed without keeping an eye on the future and reserving land resources,” said education director Binay Bhushan.
Bhushan added that the education department is currently working to construct at least 30 new schools, the construction work for which, they hope, will begin by August.
Among high population localities in which schools are being planned are Karawal Nagar and Khajoori Khas in North East Delhi, Rohini Sector 27 and Sector 18 in North West Delhi, and Aya Nagar in South Delhi. These also include Geeta Colony, which is where the education department claimed it received its only plot of land from the DDA.
“Over the last two years, we have worked towards acquiring land for the purpose of constructing new schools, and most of this land has come from gaon sabhas. We have received nearly 78 plots of land from them in the last two years. The estimates have been received for the construction of 24 schools so far. The rest are pending. We are trying to sanction estimates for all plans so that construction can begin by August, after which it will take about two years for the schools to be functional,” said an official in the education department.
After land availability, Bhushan stated that the second biggest difficulty in setting up and operating new schools is the shortage of regular teachers, with most of the existing schools depending heavily on the services of guest teachers.
According to DDA Vice Chairman Tarun Kapoor, in areas which are planned by the DDA, plots are always marked out for primary and senior secondary level schools.
“Problems arise in unplanned areas where people have built up on and encroached government land, including that which is meant for educational institutions. As long as the DDA has land, we will always give priority to the development of educational institutions. It is where land is unavailable where we run into problems. Unfortunately, there are also many plots which we had given to the government years ago for the construction of education infrastructure, but have been lying vacant all along,” he said.