What arrangements have been made for the students of civic schools that have been shut down?
For the last two months, activist Aftab Siddiqui has been seeking a definite answer to this query under the Right to Information (RTI) Act from the municipal corporation.
“The administration officer of the H-west ward, Sujata Khare, replied to the RTI query saying the BMC education officer has the information, while the education officer’s said Khare has the information,” said Siddiqui.
Seven of the 41 civic schools in H-west ward, comprising some areas of Bandra, Khar and Santacruz, have shut down since 2002. Now, the affected students are forced to go to civic schools located far from their homes. On Friday, education officer, Abbasaheb Jadhav, met the activist to discuss the matter. Jadhav, however, refused to reply to the RTI query, saying: “I’m not in authority to comment on the application.”
When Siddiqui asked him about the status of 14 other schools that are temporarily shut, the officer said he would look into matter.
The activist also pointed out that when BMC rents land from private parties for its schools, and if the land goes under redevelopment, the municipality should take the developed space from the builder, which is applicable under law. Jadhav appreciated this suggestion.
“Some of these schools have been closed for development purposes, while others have been given out to the private parties, who charge Rs 4,500 annually. This is unlawful as per the Right to Education,” said Cynthia Fernandes, an activist for children’s rights.
On October 4, Siddiqui had filed an application to the appellate officer of the H-west ward to look into the matter. The appellate officer ordered Khare to give the details within 15 days. “But I never got a reply,” said Siddiqui.
“I have already replied to the RTI applications,” said Khare, refusing to disclose the information provided or the date when she gave out the information. Now, Siddiqui is awaiting an order from the state information commissioner, whom she approached on November 8.