BJP, AAP spar over classroom construction
There are 12,748 classrooms under construction, on which the Kejriwal government is spending ₹2,892 crore, whereas the present market cost of these should be ₹892 crore. The government is spending ₹25 lakh per classroom while the cost of construction should be around ₹3-5 lakh.Updated: Jul 02, 2019 09:46 IST
A war of words broke out on Monday between Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and deputy CM and education minister Manish Sisodia on one side, and Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari, after the opposition party alleged the Aam Aadmi Party government was spending an extra ₹2,000 crore to construct 12,000-odd classrooms in schools.
While the BJP demanded Sisodia’s resignation, he dared Tiwari to have him arrested or apologise for “spreading lies”.
Citing the government’s response to a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by Delhi BJP spokesperson Harish Khurana, Tiwari said, “There are 12,748 classrooms under construction, on which the Kejriwal government is spending ₹2,892 crore, whereas the present market cost of these should be ₹892 crore. The government is spending ₹25 lakh per classroom while the cost of construction should be around ₹3-5 lakh. The government will be paying ₹2,000 crore more for work, which could have been done in ₹892 crore.”
Demanding Sisodia’s resignation, Tiwari said, “We will demand a Lokpal investigation of this corruption. Sisodia should resign and face investigation. Is the education department’s budget allocation being raised every year for this loot?”
West Delhi MP Parvesh Verma and Harish Khurana alleged the new classrooms were constructed using old techniques and were not earthquake-proof. “These rooms are being constructed without permission and without the approval of layout plans, as no competent authority will approve this kind of construction. These rooms are very dangerous, as these are not earthquake-proof,” Verma said.
The BJP alleged the ruling party had not constructed any new school buildings.
Khurana said the Delhi BJP would file a complaint against the government with the Lokayukta and police. “It is a huge scam. The government can’t justify the ₹25 lakh cost incurred for the construction of each room. We will file a complaint in Lokayukta and the Delhi Police on Tuesday,” Khurana said.
AAP counters allegation
Kejriwal hit back at the BJP, saying the saffron party was “anti-poor.”
“For the first time, poor children are studying in such good schools (of Delhi government), which were earlier available only to the rich. Now children of auto drivers, domestic helps and labourers are becoming doctors, engineers and lawyers. The BJP does not want this and so it has deliberately kept the schools in poor quality in the states ruled by it,” he said in a tweet.
The CM said the “BJP’s CBI checked all Delhi government files” but found nothing. “If there is a scam then arrest us immediately. All the agencies are with you. Why do you want to obstruct good education to the poor,” tweeted Kejriwal, who is also the national convener of the AAP.
Sisodia challenged Tiwari to have him arrested by the evening for the alleged scam or to apologise to people for spreading lies.
Hitting back at Sisodia, Tiwari said, “The deputy CM should explain how a 350 sq ft room can cost ₹25 lakh?”
Sisodia in turn tweeted photographs of Delhi government schools and wrote, “These are photographs of Delhi government schools... BJP is scared of this.”
Speaking at a press conference, Sisodia said, “The Delhi government is constructing rainwater harvesting facilities, sewage treatment plants, classrooms, corridors, staircases, toilets, libraries, laboratories and swimming pools. But the BJP is using the sanctioned cost of all of these facilities combined to calculate a per classroom cost. Imaginary and distorted figures cannot undermine our resolve to continue working on education, and will not undo the government’s reforms. Estimated costs are always calculated as per the Central Public Works Department’s norms. But Manoj Tiwari doesn’t understand mathematics of construction or education.”