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Delhi classrooms miss deadline, to be ready by new session: Sisodia

Delhi classrooms miss deadline, to be ready by new session: Sisodia

New Delhi: Though the construction of new classrooms for Delhi schools has missed the construction completion deadline, these will be ready by the coming academic session, according to the Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.

It was on January 28, 2019, that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Sisodia had laid the foundation stone for 11,000 new classrooms for Delhi schools under the biggest expansion phase of government school infrastructure. Even after one year, however, the classrooms are not ready.

Speaking to IANS, Sisodia, who holds the education portfolio, said the new rooms, including classrooms, will be made available for students in the coming academic session beginning April 1.

The deadline for building about 12,000 new rooms, from January 2019, was December 2019.

Sisodia told IANS that the construction had got delayed as there was the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) in operation for the Lok Sabha elections between March and May 2019, as well as due to a court ban on all construction in Delhi since October 2019 on account of severe air pollution.

"I was monitoring the construction on an everyday basis. However, the MCC was imposed for the Lok Sabha 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," Sisodia said.

He explained that no new tender was allowed during operation of the MCC and, thus, work in some places started later than expected.

"The new classrooms will be ready by the new academic session", the Education Minister said.

The Supreme Court had in December 2019 partially lifted the ban on construction activities in the Delhi-NCR region, allowing these between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. The ban was removed totally 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 will be the classrooms, 106 multi-purpose halls, 328 laboratories, and others, including libraries, fooms for principals and vice-principals and staffrooms 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 for the purpose. The Public Works Department is the executing agency for this project.

As per the government, out of 1,024 government schools, over 280 are running in double shifts with a high enrolment of students. The proposal for new classrooms was designed to accommodate these students.

The new rooms are being built since the state government lacks control over land in Delhi, which has affected the Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) plans to build new schools. In the 2015 Assembly elections, the AAP had pledged to build 500 new schools.

Since 2015, only 25 new schools have come up in the capital and an equal number may be constructed by March 2020, according to government data.

Known for its reforms in the education sector, the AAP has constantly blamed the lack of control over land for its inability to build new schools.

Delhi went to the polls this month and AAP was re-elected. The cabinet ministers have remained unchanged with minor changes in their portfolios.

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