Bhubaneswar: With Odisha sizzling under blistering summer, life has turned miserable for nearly 30 lakh school children with their schools bereft of electricity.
In what portrays infrastructure deficiencies in government-run primary education system, 80% of primary and upper primary level schools in the state run without electricity.
Minister of schools and mass education, Debi Prasad Mishra replying to a question raised by BJD MLA Raseswari Panigrahi candidly admitted the gross lack of electricity in government schools spead across the state.
Of the 51,094 primary and upper primary schools, as many as 40,087 primary educational institutions are not electrified. This accounts for almost 80% of schools not covered under the ‘luxury’ of electricity. Similar is the fate of 935 government-run high schools without having power connections.
Of the 30 districts, Mayurbhanj district in northern part of the state languish at the bottom in the list of un-electrified schools with 3,346 schools not connected to power supply.
Surprisingly, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s home district Ganjam, figures 2nd in the list with 2,094 un-electrified schools. Keonjhar district has 2083 schools without electricity supply.
Of the 935 un-electrified high schools, backward Koraput district, with predominant tribal population accounts for maximum number (114) of high schools sans electricity, according to the minister’s reply placed at the assembly.
An estimated 30 lakh students enrolled in these un-electrified schools are having a harrowing time following the rise in mercury.
The minister replying to MLA’s query said Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan has been asked to lay stress on the electrification of government-run institutions from central funds.
Even if the government goes ahead electrifying the schools, fund allocation to pay the pending electricity bills would be a herculean task.
The grim ground realities tell altogether a different story with regard to the electrified schools numbering little over 10,000 primary and upper primary schools. With no distinct fiscal provision for payment of electricity dues, the schools authorities in majority of electrified schools find it tough to clear of due arrears.
There is no financial provision of electricity bill payment. As a result they are forced to divert Rs 5,000 annual school improvement grants towards electricity bill payment. Non-payment of bills also lead to electricity supply disconnection by supplying company, pointed out a retired headmaster of a government-run school, Abani Mohan Mohanty.