Statesman News Service BHOPAL, Jun 20:
Schools are being demolished in Madhya Pradesh to make way for shopping malls and commercial complexes. For the people of Bhopal, Sardar Patel School in Tin Shed locality here has been a temple of learning for the last 40 years. Now the school is being demolished so that a shopping mall can be constructed in its place. “I can only say that the decision to demolish the school has been taken by the state government. I am not sure which department gave the order or who will construct the mall,” a senior official of the education department of Madhya Pradesh told The Statesman on the condition of anonymity. “We received the order from the collector’s office,” he said. “The land over which the school was constructed belongs to the state government and it has the right to use the land in any way it likes,” said the official.
The reason why only Sardar Patel School was chosen is very clear to Mr Avnish Mishra who was once a student of the school. “Tin Shed is the heart of this city. Slowly it is becoming the commercial centre of Bhopal. But there is no place for shopping malls or commercial complexes. Builders and realtors had their eyes on the land of the school for many years. Now they have been able to grab the land worth crores of rupees,” he said. “The school occupies an area of six thousand square feet and that is a quite big area for constructing a shopping mall,” he said. According to him, the school catered to the needs of several poor families. “Students from poor families will have to suffer now, especially those who cannot afford to travel by bus up to schools,” he said. The present strength of the school is around 1000.
They will be accommodated in Nutan Subhash School in the new session beginning shortly. Mr LS Baghel, commissioner of the education department of the state said that classrooms were being constructed in Nutan Subhash School. “When construction of the commercial complex is complete, we will see that if there is any space left for the school. If space is left we will get a new school building constructed to see that students don’t suffer,” said Mr Baghel. But he was not able to say why an existing school was at all being demolished.
“The state government is hand in glove with the builders and realtors. So such things are likely to happen. Who bothers if a shopping mall comes up at the cost of education,” said an official of Sardar Patel School. “On one hand the government is talking of educating children on the other hand a functional school is being demolished,” he said. He said the act of the state government was vicious considering the fact that Madhya Pradesh fared poorly as far as education was concerned according to a survey conducted by the National University Educational Planning and Administration. “Take Guna district as an example –there, around 15 per cent of the schools do not have blackboards, 14.3 per cent are single room schools and 12.5 do not even have a separate building. In Indore, the biggest city of MP, 43 per cent of the schools do not have blackboards,” he said. “All claims of the state government that it is serious about education are farce,” he said. But Sardar Patel School is not the only school that has been levelled to the ground. Kamla Nehru School, another popular school in Tin Shed locality will soon be bulldozed to pave way for another shopping mall.