Many government schools are being forced to make do without electricity in the district. Fund crunch has led to adding up of power dues of 244 government high and elementary schools in the district to the tune of Rs 24,90,162 till October this year. The district education department recently conducted a survey in all government schools, following the orders of the director of public instructions (DPI, schools), seeking the list of pending electricity bills from schools. There are some schools that have not paid the bill since 2011.
Sources in the education department said that as the government was yet to sanction funds to foot the electricity bill, most schools are either forcing students to pay for the bill or are running the schools with “kundi”connections.
As many primary schools, which have no source of income other than government grants, were unable to pay the power bill to Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), village panchayats and local non-governmental organisations had to come forward to foot the bill.
Sources said government senior secondary schools, too, have not received any grants this year, but they were clearing the dues by arranging money from their parent-teacher association (PTA) funds, mid-day meal funds and other school funds.
Principal of Government Senior Secondary School, Arno, Karnail Singh said the school has not paid the electricity bill since May 2014, due to which PSPCL disconnected its power in April 2015 as the dues accumulated to Rs 80,000.
“Somehow, we arranged the money from PTA and some other school funds and cleared the dues to restore power,” he said.
Faculty members of various schools, including Government Middle School, Sular; Government Elementary School, Marori; and Senior Elementary School, Nagar Shahib, has similar stories to tell. The power corporation disconnected electricity being supplied to these schools as the payment of bills remained pending for several months.
Deputy chief engineer (distribution circle) Bhupinder Sharma said the department had issued a notice to all defaulter schools, and was forced to take action after they failed to clear the dues.
School principals said that they have requested district education officers and district administration to clear the pending bills a number of times, but to no avail.
District education officer (DEO, primary) Bahadur Singh said: “We have not received any grant to pay electricity bills for the past several months. Owing to this, power was disconnected in many schools.”
“We have sent the list of pending dues to the state government and hope that the money will be sanctioned soon,”said the DEO.
DEO (secondary) Harinder Kaur, too, admitted that the department has received any grant this year. She, however, claimed that the power bill of only a few senior secondary schools was pending, as schools used other funds to clear the dues.”