It has been four months since schools reopened but Salma Sheikh, 12, has been using her short and slightly tight uniform from last year. The Class 6 student has to wear leggings because the dress has become too short. She has no idea how long she will have to make do with this ensemble as she has not yet got a new set from her municipal school in Grant Road.
She is one of more than four lakh students enrolled in municipal schools in Mumbai and 46 lakh students enrolled in state schools who are yet to receive the two sets of uniforms they are entitled to from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and the central government-run Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).
“I feel uncomfortable in last year’s uniform,” said Sheikh, student of Khetwadi municipal school. Her mother works as a domestic help. “My mother cannot afford to buy a new one, so my sisters and I are using leggings under our uniforms.”
A budget of Rs180 crore was sanctioned in March 2011 for the uniform distribution scheme under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Mumbai does not come under this as the BMC has a separate provision for these schools, that includes distributing 27 school related items such as tiffin boxes, shoes, socks, and school bags apart from uniforms. The total budget for this is Rs100 crore.
“The delay has been on the contractor’s part,” said additional municipal commissioner Mohan Adtani. “We have been told that uniforms for ward A and B are ready and the distribution will be completed in the next ten days,” he added.
V Radha, director of SSA, said, “SSA has put its unequivocal and clear stand on the subject of procurement to the government for necessary action. Directions are awaited.”