Even after getting a rap from the Punjab and Haryana high court for forcing students to buy sub-standard practical copies, the government is again forcing the schools to buy books printed by a particular publisher of Sardulgarh (Mansa).
The bundle of books meant for the school libraries, are being supplied these days to every primary and upper primary school.
Contrary to the instructions of the director general school education (DGSE) Kahan Singh Pannu that library books be purchased by the school management committees as per requirement of the children, a letter was issued by the DPI (elementary education) that Friends Enterprises, Ratia Road, Sardulgarh had been nominated to supply books to all primary and upper primary schools of the state to "raise the standard of school libraries".
Using this "authorisation letter" (a copy of which is with HT ), the firm approached the district education officers and got a nod to start the supply. Books worth Rs. 10,000 for every upper primary school and Rs. 3,000 for each of the primary schools are being supplied.
The books being supplied by the nominated firm have been priced very high. The same material can be bought at a comparatively less price in the open market.
Most of the books meant for upper primary school libraries cost above Rs. 200. The dictionary and Mahabharata are priced at Rs. 400 each.
"The firm has supplied a set of 55 books for Rs. 10,000 but with the same amount we can purchase at least a hundred books. Publishers are ready to bargain as there is tough competition in the market," said a school teacher.
Hoshiarpur district education officer (DEO) Rampal Singh, when contacted, denied having issued any directions for the purchase of library books. "A few days ago, some people had approached me and asked me to endorse the DPI's letter, but I refused as I had not received any such circular officially," the DEO said.
He said he was not aware of the book supply issue as he was busy in election duty. Heads of schools where the books had reached, said they had received a verbal message from the block education offices concerned to collect the books. They revealed that bills were also delivered on the spot.
Neither principal secretary (education) Anjali Bhawra nor DPI (elementary) Pritpal Kaur Sidhu was available for comments.