October 8, 2008 12:17:42 am
It was in the late 1970s when the Senior Secondary Panama Building Girls School in the Kothi Nawab Loharu lane in Ballimaran was declared dangerous and moved to an alternative site near Jama Masjid. Yet to get a new building, the school has seen the foundation stone for it being laid thrice — twice by Union Minister for Science and Technology Kapil Sibal and once before by the then Lt Governor K L Kapoor.
Around 30 years after the school was abandoned, plans for its new building were approved recently. For the residents of the area who have been sending their girls to government schools in other parts of Old Delhi, however, the good news came with a rider. “The school will have to share the site with a police post,” said Union Minister for Science and Technology Kapil Sibal, whose constituency includes Ballimaran, on September 18, the last time foundation was laid for the building.
While the post has been there for the last two decades, the residents are not happy with the idea of not relocating it once the new school starts functioning.
Naved Yar Khan, who has been fighting to have the police post shifted elsewhere, said: “According to the zonal development plan for the Walled City, there is sufficient number of senior secondary schools in Old Delhi, but they are ailed by space crunch.”
Khan said he had written to several officials and politicians, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, to review the plan, adding that he was even ready to take the matter to court.
“There will be criminals and all other sorts of people coming to the school campus. It won’t be safe for the girls,” said Abdul Khaliq whose house is next to the site. For years, he too has been trying to mobilise support for a new school and get the police post relocated.
In the ’80s, a temporary police post of Thana Hauz Kazi was set up on the school premises amid communal riots. But long after things were back to normal, the post remained, despite complaints from the locals.
According to a letter written to Sibal and others by Khaliq, even Delhi Police chief Y S Dadwal had last year ordered the shutdown of the police post after a policeman was allegedly found with a woman at the post early in the morning. The police refused to comment on the matter.
Sibal said he wasn’t in favour of the police post either.
“I intervened. But officials were divided on the issue and it would have taken longer to get the plans approved for the school. After several meetings, we decided that rather than delaying the project let both the police post and the school be accommodated,” he said.
Sibal, however, is of the opinion that the khaki presence would help keep crime under control in the area.
With civic elections ahead, candidates have already made it a poll issue.
Lok Janshakti Party candidate Obyed Iqbal, who is currently the ward councillor for Turkman Gate area, said: “The site is for a girls’ school and there can only be a school there.” Iqbal said no police post should be located within 500 metres of a girls’ school.
According to the plans approved by the government, the new school will accommodate 600 girls and run in two shifts. Construction is expected to be completed before the end of this year, according to Sibal.
Of the 12 rooms proposed in the rebuilding plan, two would be used by the police, officials said.
“Discussions are already on for a pre-fabricated structure to house the police post,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police Yashpal Singh.
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