THE FLIP-FLOP situation about the fate of a 130-year-old government-aided school continues. Now, three letters including two by the Punjab education department and one by the PWD indicate that the process of shifting students to other schools to pay the way for an Armed Forces Preparatory Institution (AFPI) at Bajwara, Hoshiarpur, will begin from the coming academic session.
Meanwhile, the beautiful school building, which is over a century old, will be used as is with a few changes, the letters indicate.
The three letters have been procured under the Right To Information Act by activist Rajiv Vashisth, who is also leading the Bajwara School Bachao Andolan (BSBA). Copies of the three are available with The Indian Express.
A February 20 letter from the office of the Director Public Instruction (DPI), Secondary, Punjab, to District Education Officer (DEO) Secondary, Hoshiarpur, states: “I have been directed to convey you the order of the government to draw up the plan for shifting the students of Sardar Bahadur Amin Chand (SBAC) School, Bajwara, Hoshiarpur, to nearby schools in the upcoming academic session, 2020-21, and work out the modalities to ensure that they attend the new session in the schools so identified.”
The subject of the letter is: ‘Establishment of Armed Forces Preparatory Institution at Bajwara, Hoshiarpur.’
“…also verify the documents of the teachers to be absorbed in the department and initiate the process keeping in view the aforesaid timelines and report back the compliance at the earliest,” said the letter.
In reply to this letter, the Hoshiarpur DEO on February 22 sent details of the shifting of 557 students of the school to other schools and stated that 9 teaching and non-teaching regular staff need to be adjusted. The school has several ad hoc teachers and there is no plan to adjust them.
Another letter by the Executive Engineer, Provincial Division, PWD (B&R), Hoshiarpur, dated November 25, 2019, says that a site visit at the existing school building was conducted by PWD and experts of the civil engineering wing.
The letter states, “Majority of the locations, architecture is using the existing walls”, and advises “changing the use of the room as per requirement”.
However, in one block, it is proposed that existing walls be removed to increase the room size or even merge a few rooms to make an auditorium. As the existing structure is a load-bearing wall system, it is not advisable to remove the load-bearing walls”.
“Furthermore, roof level of the intermediate corridors and rooms is not the same and the proposed auditorium will require the roof to be at one level. In case these walls are removed we need to construct a fresh supporting system i.e RCC columns and beams to support the slab,” mentioned in the letter. “So keeping in view to keep the old structure and architecture intact, it is recommended that old buildings should be used as it is, however, in structures wherever large clear space is required those should be constructed separately as a new building,” it added.
Vashisth said these letters show the clear-cut intentions of the government. “Why is the district administration misleading the students and parents?” he asked, adding that Hoshiarpur Tehsildar Harminder Singh had given in written on the behalf of Hoshiarpur Deputy Commissioner that there is no plan to close or shift this school.
Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal had in his Budget speech on Friday announced the allocation of Rs 11 crore for setting the AFPI on land donated by Rajya Sabha MP Ambika Soni, where the school currently stands.
Last week, students and parents had protested, demanding that the school be spared.
The Indian Express had in September last year carried a report about the possible closure of the school after procuring correspondence between the PWD and other government departments.
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