Students and teachers at a Government Primary School in Gurgaon’s Sushant Lok area have been without lights and fans for more than two weeks, except Monday and Tuesday when a bit of jugaad — a resourceful fix which bent the rules — was applied. Someone sourced power illegally from an electricity pole near the school, but authorities soon found out and cracked down. Then, it was back to the heat, humidity and semi-darkness in the classes at the school, which has 235 students. The school’s staff as well as the District Elementary Education Officer (DEEO) claimed they did not know who did the illegal jugaad.
Electricity supply to the school was cut on July 27 over unpaid bills. “The supply was cut after it was found that bills of the last two-and-a-half years amounting to over Rs 60,000 had not been settled,” said an official of the Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam. Parents of students are annoyed with the logjam, while teachers are saying they are helpless. Teachers claimed several letters were written to the DEEO after the power supply was cut to pay the bills, but to no avail. “We just get a response that there is a shortage of funds and the bills will be paid once money is available,” said a teacher who did not want to be named.
Teachers have been continuing with classes against the odds. According to teachers, natural light is not enough and shifting classes to the grounds is not practical because “it is either too hot or raining”.
The cancellation of electricity supply has also led to disruption of water supply to the school. “Most of the students carry water bottles from home so drinking water is not such a problem, but water is needed for the bathrooms and for washing utensils used for mid-day meals,” said a teacher.
The school faced pressure last Saturday at a Parent-Teacher Meeting. On hearing that no solution was in sight, parents and guardians threatened to stop sending their wards to school if the electricity supply was not restored. Parents also jointly wrote a letter to the DEEO for restoration of power supply. “What is the point of sending them to school like this, when there is no electricity and water? How will they learn anything sitting in the heat?” said a parent.
The pressure from the parents is believed to be the reason for the jugaad, which proved short-lived. The DEEO, Ram Kumar Phalswal, claimed the problem would be resolved shortly. He said there were two reasons for the unpaid bills. The first, he said, was the “negligence of the school’s in-charge”, who failed to collect the money from the department and pay the bills. The second reason, according to Phalswal, is “the amount exceeded the budget set for the electricity bill of the school for the period”. He said, “The money has now been arranged and the electricity supply should be back soon.”
The school’s in-charge, reportedly on a “long leave” for over a month, could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.