Implement GR on water bottles in schools in phases, says HC

The Bombay High Court on Thursday said children should not bear the brunt of dispute between parents and schools and asked Maharashtra government to be non-insistent on educational institutions to direct students to not carry water bottles if water coolers have been installed there.

As per a resolution issued last year on the issue of reduction of weight of school bags, the state government had asked schools to instal water coolers and ask students to not carry water bottles.

A division bench of Justices A S Oka and P D Naik today noted that parents may still insist that their children carry water bottles fearing that their child may not get pure drinking water.

"It should not happen that children bear the brunt of a fight between parents and schools. The government resolution should be implemented scrupulously but in a phased manner," the court said while hearing a public interest litigation by activist Swati Patil on the issue.

Government Pleader Poornima Kantharia told the court that a machinery has been set up at different levels and officers from the Education Department have been authorised and told to visit schools and prepare reports about steps taken by schools to reduce weight of bags and implementation of resolution.

As per recommendations mentioned in the resolution, schools have been directed to take various steps like using tabs, one text book for allied subjects, provide lockers allowing children to keep books in schools and so on.

The High Court though pointed out that the suggestions have to be implemented rationally. "Schools in Mumbai may not be able to provide locker facilities due to space crunch and aided schools would not have funds to provide modern technologies like tablets," the court said.

The bench posted the matter for further hearing on July 27 and directed the authorised officers to visit schools when they reopen in June and check the implementation of the resolution and submit their reports.

The government has also been told to provide data of the reports filed by officers and schools and file a compliance report on the next date.

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