The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh had last year spent Rs 266 crore to distribute free shoes, socks, bags among 1.54 students of the primary and upper-primary schools that are run by the state government. But these free items turned out to be defective within months of the distribution, thanks to the poor quality of material used in manufacturing shoes and socks. Many students said that their shoes were tattered within 10 days and now they are back to walking barefoot or in slippers to school.
An investigation done by India TV revealed that in Aligarh, shoes and socks were tattered within 10 days. The situation was no different in the vicinity of the capital. Students at a primary school in Gazipur Balram, 33 km from Lucknow, said that the shoes did not last for more than 10-15 days. In Paharpur, a teacher said that students were happy to get these items but their dream of walking to school like “kids of private schools” were soon shattered.
“Students were elated to get shoes, socks, bags etc. We were also happy to see our children getting new shoes and bag… but these shoes and socks are very poor quality,” a teacher at government-run primary school in Paharpur said. Students in Banda, Barabanki also said that shoes that were given to them are of poor quality. Students are now demanding that the government should only distribute the shoes, bags that are of good quality.
The development was brought to light by reports a few days ago and have now caught the government’s attention as well. Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma said that the government is committed to the cause of children and assured that defected shoes and other items will be replaced. Speaking to India TV, he said that the government has for the first time released the tender online and has been maintaining transparency in the entire process. He said that at the time of signing an agreement, the education department had decided that suppliers will provide a guaranteed time for their products.
“An agreement was signed between the government and suppliers that it will replace the items during a specific time if it turns out to be defective or bad quality. The education department had tested the quality of the items and items that were not according to the prescribed parameter, were replaced. The Chief Minister’s priority is to maintain quality and sustainability. The will take all steps to ensure items are of good quality,” he said.
During the election campaign in run-up to the Assembly polls last year, the BJP had promised to distribute free shoes, socks, water-bottles, bags and school uniforms to children. After forming the government, the state government had released a tender of Rs 266 croe to execute its promise. The Allahabad High Court had also welcomed the scheme of the government to provide shoes, uniforms, bags etc to students.