The Madras High court Friday pulled up the state education department for not coming up with a strategy to provide toilet facilities in all government schools despite its earlier order as well as that of the Supreme Court. The court’s Madurai bench, which was hearing a PIL seeking a direction to provide toilet facilities in schools, asked what the officials were doing to implement the court order and why they could not even plan for it. The bench noted that the director of school education had earlier misled the court that enough toilet facilities were provided in all the schools, forcing the court to appoint an advocate commission to inspect the schools for the real situation.
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The court said that another report of the school department was not satisfactory and “makes us shed tears about the status of basic amenities in schools in the state”.
Even Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were doing better in providing facilities in schools, it said.
There were schools where girls use bushes as cover for attending to nature’s call, the court said, adding, such a situation should not prevail in this country 70 years after independence.
The court also wondered why power tariff in schools was more than the commercial tariff at 5.75 ps per unit, and why electricity expenses were met by parent-teacher associations in many schools.
Additional Advocate General submitted that it would not be possible to build 75,000 toilet units in schools, which do not have the facility, this financial year itself and funds could be allocated only for 22,000 units this year. The remaining schools could be covered next year.
The court said the government had already committed contempt of court by not providing toilets in all schools as ordered by it in 2014, and it was now seeking more time to complete the project.
About 1,41,000 toilets were required at the rate of one toilet per 20 students. There were about 66,610 units in schools and the remaining should have been constructed by this time, the court said.
“This only shows that officials did not have any vision and strategy to do things,” it said and posted the case for further hearing on November 22 when the government is expected to give some concrete reply on the issue.
The Supreme Court had issued orders for providing toilet facilities in schools in the country in 2012 itself.
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