Landowners cry foul as school holds ‘akhand paath’ on building’s completion
Turning a deaf ear to the original owners’ concerns, the UT education department has gone ahead with normal procedure prior to the inauguration of the Kishangarh government school which has been built on a piece of land that is not under its ownership.punjab Updated: Nov 23, 2015 14:55 IST
Turning a deaf ear to the original owners’ concerns, the UT education department has gone ahead with normal procedure prior to the inauguration of the Kishangarh government school which has been built on a piece of land that is not under its ownership.
After the DEO’s office sent out a letter to the school principal on November 18 to take possession of the land, the principal along with other members of the school management committee of the area carried out a proper ceremony and held ‘akhand paath’ on Saturday morning in the school premises.
The HT team that reached the school, located near the IT Park, noted that the ‘paath’ followed by a ‘hawan’ took place in the presence of the principal, other staff members, residents of the area, village sarpanches and children, among others. Sources said a lot of these people had received formal invites via text messages to attend the ceremony ahead of the school’s formal inauguration. Sarpanch Davinder Lubana was one of them.
Shamsher Singh, son of the original land owners Prem Singh and wife Tej Kaur, told HT, “Although I was invited for the ‘pooja’, I would never especially go when we still haven’t been compensated for the land as per the new land acquisition act. It’s become a big fat joke as it appears that the department is taking advantage of our patience. ”The owners are entitled to compensation four times the collector’s rate in rural areas. In Kishangarh, the collector’s rate is Rs 1.15 crore per acre.
Meanwhile, officials claim that the administration was in possession of the land when the construction began in 2012. As HT highlighted in its previous reports, the construction was allowed despite the case pending in court and continued even after the high court quashed the land acquisition notification in 2013. Furthermore, the Supreme Court dismissed the UT’s special leave petition in March, 2014. The UT has spent almost `11 crore on the construction of the school building and a community centre on 3.5 acres of land, which was part of 55.9 acres acquired from the village in 2003 to expand the second phase of the Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Technology Park (IT park).
According to information gathered under the Right to Information Act, the UT administration has already taken the possession of 18.6 acres of land and a school has been constructed on that
‘NORMAL PROCEDURE’ BEFORE INAUGURATION
Principal Ravinder Kaur said although she would be taking charge officially from the coming Thursday, the letter from the DEO’s office prompted her to hold the ceremony.
When HT verified if such a letter had been issued to the principal, district education officer Vinay Sood confirmed the same citing it as ‘normal procedure before inauguration of any school’.
Interestingly, many senior department officials claimed to be unware of the ‘paath’. Director of public instructions (school) Rubinderjit Singh Brar said, “I am not aware of any such development.” Education secretary Sarvjit Singh, on the other hand, stood by his earlier statement saying ‘he would resolve the matter once he received the official files regarding the same and compensate the owners’. However, it has been repetitively highlighted that the UT adviser had asked the finance-cum-education secretary to resolve the issue at the earliest towards the beginning of the year.