By Surya Desaraju
The second phase works of Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy’s ambitious pet project Mana Badi: Nadu-Nedu (our school, then and now) have come to a halt across Andhra Pradesh owing to paucity of funds.
According to officials in the School Education department, NABARD has released Rs 2,000 crore and World bank Rs 380 crore as loan for phase 2 works, but there is a delay in release of grants from the Finance Department for clearing bills to the tune of Rs 950 crore.
Under the ambitious flagship programme, the state government proposed to refurbish over 16,493 schools in the Phase-2 at a cost of Rs 4,535 crore. The CM launched the second phase works on August 16, 2021, which were supposed to be completed by August 2022.
Giving a fresh coat of paint to government school buildings with thematic pictorials adorning the walls, installing new furniture in classrooms along with fans and fluorescent lights, building swanky-clean toilets, providing safe drinking water, setting up of English language labs and building kitchen sheds for preparing mid-day meal were the main works under Mana Badi: Nadu-Nedu.
In all, the government proposed to give complete facelift to over 45,500 schools in the state in three phases by 2024 at a total cost of Rs 16,000 crore.
Under Phase-1, 15,715 schools were covered last year, on which the government spent Rs 3,699 crore.
Of the total cost of Rs 4,535 crore Phase-2 works, Rs 1,000 crore was spent so far, the officials said.
“We have raised bills for Rs 950.54 crore for the works completed so far, but the government is yet to release the money. As no funds are available, the works have been stopped,” they pointed out.
Initially, non-availability of sand hampered the Nadu-Nedu works, but when it became available, there was no money to buy it.
“We have cleared old dues of over Rs 70 crore for sand and the current due is only about Rs one crore,” a top official of the Department said.
The government has to pay the schools’ Parents Committees, which are entrusted with Nadu-Nedu works, a staggering sum of Rs 727 crore. Cement suppliers have to be paid Rs 34 crore, he claimed.
The official further said the state government deducted Rs 1,000 each from the Amma Vodi freebie beneficiaries towards School Maintenance Fund (over Rs 430 crore) this year but over Rs 81 crore of it yet to be released for the intended purpose.
On the Rs 1,800 crore loan taken from Nabard for Nadu-Nedu Phase-1 works in 2020, Rs 20.19 crore has to be paid towards interest. Another Rs 78 crore has to be paid towards the Revolving Fund.
“If we at least clear the pending bills, we can get the work resumed. But, with the Finance Department sitting over our plea for release of funds, we are unable to go ahead,” the School Education Department official noted.