Pradeep Pattanayak

The Government Primary School at Unit II in Bhubaneswar, which is under President Droupadi Murmu’s alma mater, Unit II Government Girls’ High School, has been in darkness for the last eight days as the power supply to the institution has been snapped by the Tata Power Central Odisha Distribution Limited (TPCODL). 

The power connection was cut off on the ground of the school authorities not making payment of the outstanding electricity bills of Rs 80,000. Consequently, the school plunges into darkness after sunset. Students are facing difficulties as taps at the toilets have too gone dry due to the snapping of power connection. 

An Aadhaar centre functions from the school campus. Without electricity, the centre has also lying nonfunctional, forcing hundreds of people to return without having their work done. 

Notably, as per the State government’s school merger rule, the Government Primary School was merged with the Unit II Government Girls’ High School in 2019. As a result, the institution has now come under the Directorate of Secondary Education from the Directorate of the Primary Education. 

The two institutions, separated by a park, are under one headmaster and one managing committee. 

As a result, the Unit II Government Girls’ High School should have made payments of the primary school’s electricity bill. But this couldn’t have been done due to the fact that the consumer’s name in the school’s bill has not been changed since the merger.

The school’s bill has not been paid since 2019 and the outstanding amount has now reached Rs 80,000. It was when the school authorities didn’t make payment despite several reminders, the TPCODL snapped the power connection on December 2. 

The intellectuals living in the capital expressed concerns over the institution lying in darkness. They alleged lack of coordination between the two directorates which come under the School and Mass Education Department. 

It is claimed that the institution authorities have asked the TPCODL to convert the two consumer names into one so that they wouldn’t have any problem paying the bills. 

On the other hand, the TPCODL authorities have asked the school authorities either to foot the bill or to submit an undertaking in writing for restoration of the power supply.