BMC shunts 245 kids to new school, without notice

Around 245 students of a BMC Urdu school in Bandra, received the shock of their life on Monday morning when they found that their school had been shut down by the civic authorities. A notice, pasted on the gate of the school, said that the school would be under repair, with no definite date of completion of work.

The primary school children have been shifted to Khair Nagar Municipal School, but the new facility does not have even the basic infrastructure needed for shouldering the additional burden
The primary school children have been shifted to Khair Nagar Municipal School, but the new facility does not have even the basic infrastructure needed for shouldering the additional burden

The students have been moved to another municipal school, which does not have the capacity to accommodate the students and all the 245 students are being taught inside the cultural hall of the school. Behram Nagar Urdu School has been operating from the same premises for the past 30 years and manages around 245 students from Std I to IV.

A notice greeted students on June 15, when the school was supposed to open after the summer vacations
A notice greeted students on June 15, when the school was supposed to open after the summer vacations

A primary school that caters to children from economically modest backgrounds, its ground-plus-one storey structure used to support two shifts: the morning shift, from 8 am to noon; and the afternoon shift, from 1 pm to 5 pm. While Std I and III were taught in two classrooms on the ground floor, two rooms on the first floor accommodated Std II and IV, with no separate office for the teachers.

Out of the blue
Apparently, BMC officials shut down the school on June 15 the very day it was supposed to reopen after the summer vacations. The civic body didn’t inform the parents about the work in advance, and neither did the school give any intimation about the same.

BMC has moved the students to Khair Nagar Municipal School, also in Bandra (East), but this school is a few kilometres away. The new school does not have the capacity to accommodate the new students and, thus, all students from Behram Nagar School are being taught in the cultural hall of the school.

Speaking to mid-day, a teacher from Behram Nagar Urdu School admitted to having been contacted by BMC officials around four months ago for inspection. “In the month of March, BMC officials confirmed that the building needs urgent repair. Being teachers, we couldn’t really point out the technical flaws in the structure.

But as far as we could see, there was only minor leakage from the terrace. The rest of the structure seems to be in proper condition,” said the teacher. During the inspection, carried out in March, officials had said the repair work would be completed during vacation time so that the students would not have to face any hassles when the school began.

Rashid Shaikh, joint secretary of Mumbai Minority Committee, said, “During the inspection, leader of the opposition in the BMC, Devendra Amberkar, local corporator Dr Gulistan Shaikh and officials from BMC’s education and building repair department were present along with a few parents.

Officers had assured us that the repair work would be carried out within the next two months so that the students wouldn’t face any trouble. And now they have suddenly locked down the school without any intimation,” said Shaikh.

Political speak
Amberkar, who is from the Congress, said that there was no need to shift the students. “I spoke with Laxman Vhatkar, Director, Engineering Services and Projects, BMC, and suggested to him that the children should not be moved so that the families don’t have problems. The work can be carried out during weekends or before and after school hours. The building isn’t in a dangerous condition, it only needs repair,” said Amberkar.

BMC speak
Vhatkar told mid-day that he had just been notified about the matter. “I wasn’t aware about the problem, so I’ll need to go through the details to find out a solution. I will definitely work on the matter in order to resolve the problem,” said Vhatkar.

Parent speak
“All of us, who have children studying in the school, stay in the vicinity. We send our children to BMC schools because we can’t afford other schools and now officials have asked us to take them to another school, which is far away. How will we afford the travel expenses everyday?” asked a parent. Another parent said, “They vacated the school and then they don’t even have an alternate plan. Our students are sitting on the ground and learning. Is this the way to treat them?”

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