Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, June 30:
With its self-imposed deadline for construction of toilets in 22,000 schools in the state set to end today, the Odisha government is hopelessly behind schedule.
While construction of toilets has been completed in 15,000 schools, work on 6,000 is in progress and yet to take off in 1,000 schools.
Aware that it has missed the bus, the School and Mass Education department has hit upon the bright idea of extending the deadline by 15 days till July 15, knowing very well that there is no way even this revised deadline can be met, given the state of the construction.
Following flak from different quarters over lack of a basic amenity like toilets in schools, which is of prime importance for the health of students in schools, the state government had decided to construct new toilets in 22,000 schools with the assistance extended by several Central PSUs.
Sources in the School and Mass Education department said toilet construction in schools in the districts of Koraput, Malkangiri, Raygada, Nabarangpur, Gajapati and Kalahandi has been very tardy. In many schools in these districts, construction of toilets had been left mid-way, while it’s yet to startin many others.
Since rains have been continuing in the state for the last two weeks, construction of toilets has been stalled in a majority of schools, said a senior official of the School and Mass Education department without explaining why it was waiting till the onset of monsoon to complete work.
Construction of toilets in schools has not been completed 100% even in the districts of Puri, Kendrapara, Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur and Nayagarh, the official added.
Construction to toilets in schools is even more sluggish in Khurda district. Orders were issued for construction of toilets in 237 schools in Khurda district out of which construction has been completed in 157 schools. While work is in progress in 78 schools, it’s yet to start in three schools till date.
Out of the 78 schools in which toilet construction is in progress, it’s in the final stages in 35 and will take 10 days to complete. Others will take more time to complete.
Though remarkable progress has been made in construction of toilets in schools under Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) limits and nearby blocks, they remain to be completed. Sources revealed out of 16 schools under BMC limits where construction of toilets was on, construction had been completed in 16 schools and work is in progress in six others. It will take another 15 days to complete and construction of toilet cannot be taken up in the school at Hanspal Bhoi Sahi due to shortage of space.
“Since there is a problem of space in that school construction of toilet cannot be taken up,” said Block Education Officer Snigdha Mishra.
Out of 18 schools in which toilets are to be constructed in Balipatna block, construction has been completed in seven schools, work is in progress in 10 schools and hasn’t begun in one school.
Similarly, construction of 18 toilets has been completed out of 22 to be constructed in Jatni block and work is in progress in the rest four.
Besides, 14 of the 17 schools in which toilets are to be constructed in Balianta block have been completed while the rest are under construction.
The School and Mass Education department has directed officials to complete the construction of school toilets by July 15, said a senior official of the department.