After missing its December deadline, over 12,000 rooms in Delhi schools will be ready by April as the new AAP government takes charge. It was on January 28, 2019, when Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia had laid the foundation for these new rooms -- under the biggest expansion phase of government school infrastructure.
Although it will take four months extra, but the classrooms would be ready, keeping in line with the Arvind Kejriwal government's plans to continue what they had started in their last term.
Speaking to IANS, Mr Sisodia said the new rooms, including the classrooms, will be made open for students in the coming academic session from April 1.
Mr Sisodia, who is again the Delhi Education Minister, told IANS that the construction got delayed as there was Model Code of Conduct for the Lok Sabha between March and May 2019, while the apex court had banned all construction in Delhi since October 2019 due to severe air pollution.
"I was monitoring the construction on an everyday basis. However, the MCC was imposed for the Lok Sabha polls and that affected the construction. Also, with the onset of winter, the city witnessed severe pollution because of which the Graded Response Action Plan was imposed in Delhi. All constructions were banned in the city when the GRAP was imposed," Mr Sisodia said.
He explained that no new tender was allowed to float during the MCC and so, the work in some places started later than expected.
The Education Minister said the two reasons were responsible for the delay in the construction, adding "the new classrooms will be ready by the new academic session".
The Supreme Court had in December 2019 partially lifted the ban on construction activities in the Delhi-NCR region, allowing them between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. The ban was removed totally only on February 14.
In July 2018, the Delhi cabinet approved the proposal of building 12,478 new rooms in the schools. Of these rooms, 9,981 were to be the classrooms, 106 multi-purpose halls, 328 laboratories, and others including Library, Principal and Vice-Principal Room and Staff-rooms in the existing premises of Delhi government schools under the jurisdiction of Directorate of Education.
An estimated cost of Rs 2,892.65 crore was sanctioned. The Public Works Department is the executing agency for this project.
As per the government, out of 1,024 government schools over 280 schools are running in double shifts with a high enrolment of students.
The government made the new rooms as lack of control over land in the national capital affected the AAP government's plan to build new schools. In the 2015 Assembly elections, the AAP had pledged to build 500 new schools.
However, since 2015, only 25 new schools have come up and an equal number may be constructed by March 2020, according to government data.
Known for its reforms in the education sector, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government has constantly blamed the lack of control over land for its inability to build new schools.
So, the government had approved the construction of new rooms, which were expected to be ready by the year-end.
Delhi went to polls this month and the AAP was re-elected. The Cabinet Ministers remained unchanged with minor changes in their portfolios.
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