Trees have been cut at the government school of Giddar village in this district to raise money for campus expansion.
The headmaster's report to higher authorities states that the money from the auction of the chopped trunks will go into further construction of the school, district education officer (DEO) Harkawaldeep Kaur has confirmed. Unsatisfied with the answer, the deputy commissioner has formed a team to investigate.
"As the land belongs to the panchayat, we cannot interfere; and the school had taken permission from the departments concerned," the DEO added.
The village sarpanch, Binder Kaur, confirmed that the panchayat had permission from the departments concerned and she had "all the proofs". Asked why the school was so short of grants that it was prompted to hack trees to raise money for classrooms, the sarpanch was first confused and then she replied: "I am not on the school committee. The money sanctioned for the school is not used properly."
"Construction labourers engaged at the school work at night, without the assistance of light. You tell me, is it possible to construct a building in moonlight?" said the sarpanch. "The job is being done in a hurry with inferior construction material and without any attention to safety."
"Mature trees can be cut and auctioned after assessment by the district forest officer (DFO)," said district development and panchayat officer (DDPO) Rajinder Batra. "The auction notice, however, must appear in newspapers. If the rules are followed, auction is okay. We'll have to check if everything was by the rules. I have told the block development officer (BDO) to send me the details."
Headmaster's report confusing, says DC
"The headmaster's report is unsatisfactory and very confusing," said deputy commissioner KK Yadav. "I have put the DEO, tehsildar, block development and panchayat officer (BDPO), and DFO on an investigating team that will give me the details. If I find any violation of rule, I will take action."