Regular electricity outages and dying equipment have been giving nightmares to students of 310 municipal schools in the city.To add to their woes, the Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) education board has appointed only one electrician and a carpenter to handle the workload, which keeps piling up everyday. This forces us to wonder, despite Rs 300 crore as its annual budget, why can’t the civic body appoint more electricians and carpenters for its schools?
Many schools have been complaining about maintenance issues and require assistance on an every day basis as the electrical systems in their premises have become outdated. In many schools, live wires can be seen hanging haphazardly putting the life of children in danger.
“We have raised this issue many times over but the PMC administration has not taken any action. The electricity system at the various schools has now become outdated. So it needs to repair from time to time,” said Balasaheb Janrao, member of the education board adding that he has demanded at least five electricians and carpenters should be appointed.
The post of electrician and carpenter in the education board was created in 1975 to take care of routine work and minor rectification work. However, with increasing number of schools and the number of students it has not increased the number of posts in the department.
Principals of various PMC schools also admitted that they have not been receiving any response even after several complaints on this issue. “Many switch boards in my school were not working and even wires near the toilets were in the dangerous condition. Despite repeated complaints, the appointed electriciandidn’t respond. It took four months for that minor repair work tobe done,” said a principal of the municipal school on conditionof anonymity.
He also said that every school receives Rs 10,000 every year under the ‘School Improvement Drive’ scheme. Many schools utilise that fund or spend from their own pockets to carry out repairs. PMC education board Chief Shivaji Daundkar said, “We inform various ward offices for minor infrastructural work of the schools. They conduct repair work regularly.” However, the ward offices are inundated with other development and maintenance work and seldom find time or resources to be sent to PMC schools. “There is no provision on the ward office level for the maintenance work of municipal schools. Ward level funds are for the >general work. I have never seen any ward office conduct repairs at any schools,” said Janrao.