The State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has asked the Uttarakhand government to renovate or reconstruct dilapidated school buildings on a priority basis during the summer holidays. "There must be at least 500-600 school buildings from the primary to intermediate level in the state which are either without a roof or whose walls are about to cave in, putting the lives ofstudents at risk. But the successive governments have done nothing to solve the problem," CPCR chairman Yogendra Khanduri told PTI. He said the panel had received nearly 400 written complaints about schools being run in dilapidated structures in Uttarakhand which risked the lives of children. He said a school building had collapsed in Pithoragarh district 2-3 years ago in which some children died, while a young school girl was killed in Tehri district's Kirtinagar area last year when the walls of her school toilet collapsed. He said the commission had drawn the attention of the state education department to the problem on many occasions but the authorities always expressed their inability to address the issue, complaining of a shortage of funds. "Finally I was forced to write a letter to the chief secretary yesterday as the final responsibility is his, with all departments coming under him.
I have asked him to do something about it urgently as the welfare of children should be on top of any government's agenda. "I have requested him to allocate funds to the state education department and have the damaged school buildings repaired on priority. The 1.5 months of summer holidays will be the ideal time to repair or reconstruct them as they will be vacant during the period," he said. It is a must to treat the matter with urgency as Uttarakhand is a disaster-prone state where flashfloods and earthquakes are common occurrences, he said. He said funds crunch could never be an excuse for endangering the lives of children. With the advent of monsoon the situation will become worse with such old school buildings being more at risk. So, the administration needs to wake up to the problem and do something about it quickly, the SCPCR Chairman said. Lack of proper educational insfrastructure is also one of the main factors behind continued migration from the hills. Stopping migration through creation of better health and education infrastructure and employment generation is a priority of the BJP which stormed to a landslide victory in the state in March this year.
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