MCD's school of stench

A Municipality school in West Delhi has a garbage dumping site as its neighbour for the last nine years. The condition has deteriorated so much that students fall ill frequently, and have to wear masks to see the day through

While on the one hand Delhi government and Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) keep boasting of a number of schemes launched for the welfare of primary schools, students at a West Delhi school are literally fighting for breath. Unable to move the authorities to do something about the menace of a garbage dump right outside the school, students and teachers have now taken to wearing masks in classroom.

Living hand to nose: Students outside the school in Uttam Nagar,
New Delhi. PIC/Rajeev Tyagi

Uttam Nagar East MCD primary school, where at least 500 students study at any given point of time, shares its boundary wall near the main gate with a huge garbage dump. School authorities claim the dump site was constructed nearly nine years ago and waste of about 8-9 wards in the zone is deposited there on a daily basis.

Efforts in vain
School authorities say their complaints in this regard, official and unofficial, have fallen on deaf ears and for the last one week, the dump has not even been cleaned. As a result, children fall ill frequently and numerous complaints of nausea have become an almost daily phenomenon.

Principal Pragi Lal, though aware of the situation, expressed his helplessness over the issue. Lal, who started his tenure in 2009, said all his attempts since then to get the mess cleared up have gone in vain. He said MCD commissioner K S Mehra finally visited the area on 17 September and got the dump cleaned once. Now, the situation has returned to the usual and it might be years again before another official visits the school.

Courting diseases?
"Since the day I joined here as principal, clearing this garbage dump has been on my agenda. I have written countless applications, requesting the Corporation to free the school site of this eye sore. I made numerous complaints to the area councillor as well, but nothing has worked out as yet," said Lal.

Regarding the woes of students, he said, "Class I and II students, who have to sit in rooms at the ground floor, are the worst sufferers. Every now and then, parents come to me complaining about the fact that their wards have been suffering from fever and nausea."

Mother of Class I student Zarina, said, "This waste disposal right up to the gate has been a cause of serious concern. One day, my six-year-old daughter fainted during the morning prayers, as the assembly space begins right after the school gate, and the stink there is unbearable. This must be removed soon. The little children are being put to danger."

Other victims
Apart from the school authorities, shopkeepers and other residents in the area are fed up with the sight itself. Vipin Jindal, who runs an electrical store that faces the garbage site, has filed a petition in the High Court.

Weary of the problem, he posted about the issue on Facebook as well. "I have filed a petition in the court to clear the road of the garbage flowing out of the site. The authorities have cleared it several times. But the relief is short-lived as the very next day, garbage is again on the road," said Jindal. 

Blame game
As usual, passing the buck to each other, none of the authorities were ready to take the responsibility for the nuisance. Uttam Nagar (west zone) councillor Ishwar Singh Chikara said, "I have already given in writing to the MCD to shift the dumping site to another location. I will try to get it removed as soon as possible."

Deputy Director Education (west zone) O P Adhvansi said, "I have received the school's complaint and forwarded it to the department concerned. At the moment, I cannot say when the site can be cleared."

School Inspector Babu Lal Meena said, "This has been a long-standing problem. I have forwarded the matter to the civic body. I don't know when they will take any action."

Yogender Chandolia, chairman, Standing Committee, MCD, said, "This is a serious issue that concerns the
health of the children. I will issue orders to the DC to get the garbage site cleared at once." 

MCD on Facebook 
With an aim to ensure cleanliness in the national Capital, the MCD had come forward with a Facebook page in April 2011, where anyone could post his/her complaints regarding garbage problems in their area. And for this, one does not have to compulsorily log on to the social networking site. People can simply dial 011-46485270 and tell their grievances regarding cleanliness problems. The complaints will automatically get uploaded on the Facebook page and the complainant will receive a reference number through SMS regarding the same.

Stink operation
MCD primary school in G  Block, Jahangir Puri, Delhi, is another such school bearing the brunt of the civic body's apathy. As reported by an NGO on October 22, 2007, dumped garbage greets you on both sides of the main entrance gate. Almost 1,000 students have to cross over a nullah overflowing with filth and garbage everyday to reach the school gate, which is unmanned and does not even have a lock.

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