High Court directs government to file statement

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Monday expressed concern over the lack of toilets and urinal facilities in government and aided schools in the State.

The Bench comprising Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan and Justice S.S. Satheesachandran observed that it was shocking that there were government schools, that too girls' schools in the State capital that did not have toilet facilities.

The court observed that the situation in the other districts was “quite alarming.” It also expressed surprise as to how the students and staff managed without these basic amenities.

The court made these observations while hearing a petition filed by the State government to review a verdict directing the government to provide basic amenities at all schools. The directive came on a writ petition filed by the secretary of the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad, Vadakkanchery zone, in March 2009.

The court also took serious note of the petitioner's submission that a sum of Rs.220 crore allotted for providing basic amenities in schools was allowed to lapse during the last two years. The Bench said if this was true, it would be a matter of shame for those at the helm of affairs.

In an affidavit, the government pointed out that expeditious steps had been taken to provide urinals and toilets in all government and aided schools. It also said that the Deputy Directors of Education were directed to ensure that all basic amenities were put in place in all schools. The government also said that the Kerala Education Rules did not stipulate the number of urinals to be established in a school. As per the circular of the Ministry of Rural Development, schools should have a 20-40 urinals and 80-120 toilets. Besides, steps had been taken to implement the sanitation campaign programme in all schools. In fact, the Suchitha Mission had been entrusted with funds provided by the Union government and also the proportional share chipped in by the State government to establish sanitation facilities in schools.

The affidavit also pointed out that the management of aided schools had also been directed to establish urinals and toilets in their schools. In fact, they were getting grants. The affidavit said that coercive steps had been taken against the managers who had not established the basic amenities in their schools.

The court also directed the government to file a short tabular statement regarding the number of the schools which did not have toilet facilities and urinals.