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Delhi school ground used for wedding, religious events; Kejriwal government gets cracking

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New Delhi | Published: July 17, 2018 10:23:12 AM

A complaint in this regard was submitted to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in November 2015 by a local resident. The Directorate of Education (DoE) took over the management of the government-aided school for three years in June 21.

A ground at a government-aided school in Delhi that has been functioning for over 50 years now is available on rent for for weddings and religious ceremonies for a rate of Rs 21,000 per day. The ground is located at Sanatan Dharam Mandir School in Sadar Bazaar in the national capital’s Cantonment area. A complaint in this regard was submitted to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in November 2015 by a local resident. The Directorate of Education (DoE) took over the management of the government-aided school for three years in June 21. The school has been functioning since the 1960s, according to an Indian Express report.

The complaints include the construction of a banquet hall and shops on the school land. “The Delhi Cantonment Board had given the land on lease to the Sanatan Dharam Mandir Sabha society to run the school and construct a temple. The lease… has already expired and the said lease has not been renewed till date. The playground of the school… has been converted into banquet halls, which are further sublet/rented out on the commercial basis to caterers for holding personal parties. The said constructions have been carried out without the approval of the Cantonment Board… and DoE,” the complainant wrote. Another resident alleged that he had paid Rs 63,000 for three days for conducting a religious event there.

“The land allotted to school/society has been converted into commercial units, shops and houses have been built around the school premises… Land available for playground has been cemented and is being used for wedding function/commercial activities. Toilets for students are in a dilapidated and unhygienic condition, causing danger to the health of the children, and the furniture/almirah, etc are broken,” the June 21 order, which was signed by the Director of Education Saumya Gupta, stated.

The order also said that a five-member committee conducted an inspection in 2016, but the school manager “bluntly refused to produce any document relating to the land; educational qualification of members of the managing committee; accounts of society etc”, and “abruptly left”. However, this charge was rejected by the manager Rajesh Goel. Goel, who is also the BJP district general secretary, said, “It’s not true that I ran away during the inspection, I was present… no shops have come up in the school premises… the area was never a playground.”

CM Kejriwal has always stressed on providing quality education through government schools in the national capital. In the budget for 2018-2019 fiscal, the Delhi government had allocated Rs 13,9997 crore, which is 26 per cent of the total expenditure. In the budget for the financial year 2017-2018, 23.5 per cent of the total budget amount was allocated for the education sector. Installation of CCTV cameras in school buildings, self-defence training for girl students, promotion of sports in schools and setting up of a world-class skill centre are among the big-ticket promises made by the AAP government in the budget proposal.

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