The Punjab and Haryana high court has directed the Punjab government to take immediate steps for supplying pure and safe drinking water to schools through reverse osmosis (RO) systems or otherwise.
The HC order came following submissions of the state government that water samples of 2,922 government schools had failed.
“This is a very serious matter. Every teacher and student has the right to have pure and safe drinking water. The government is directed to take immediate steps for supplying pure and safe drinking water to them through RO systems or otherwise,” the HC said in its order.
During the resumed hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate HC Arora, the division bench of justices SK Mittal and HS Sidhu was informed by the state government in an affidavit by director general, school education, Punjab, Pardeep Kumar Aggarwal that testing of water
HIGH COURT BENCH
Samples of drinking water in government schools (primary, middle, high and senior secondary) was conducted and completed with the help of the department of health and rural water supply and sanitation, Punjab.
Testing of water samples was done in 13,182 primary schools, of which samples failed in 2,035 schools. Similarly, drinking water samples of 6,487 upper primary schools were taken, of which 887 failed, the affidavit stated. Instructions have been issued to all schools, where samples have failed, to take the necessary action as per requirement such as treatment of water, arrangement of supply from water tank/supply established by the water supply and sanitation. Furthermore, RO systems are also being installed out of welfare funds or with the help of the public health department, wherever there is requirement, the HC was told.
The government has also stated that funds for 13 boys’ toilets and 283 separate toilets for girls had been released. The construction of 98 toilets (seven for boys and 91 for girls) had been completed and remaining 198 (six for boys and 192 for girls) was in progress and expected to be completed in three months.
Assistant solicitor general of India Chetan Mittal told the HC that the project approval board of the Centre had approved funds for 1,296 new classrooms in place of demolished rooms and funds would be released to as per requirement. Funds for the construction of 269 classrooms were released to district education officers in October, 2014.