ANDHRA PRADESH

Construction of schools in the old city runs into trouble

J.S. Ifthekhar

Land-sharks, local leaders play spoilsport and work comes to standstill

SSA officials are at the receiving endThey are threatened on phone

Hyderabad: The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.

This seems to be the case with education in the Old City. The Government's attempts to construct school buildings here are being stymied by land-sharks and local leaders.

Officials of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) are at the receiving end. They are being threatened on phone while the labourers at the site are warned of dire consequences. In some cases, the watchmen are forcibly whisked away during night.

Strong-arm tactics by local leaders, who enjoy political clout, has held up construction work at several places.

Land disputes have cropped up at Bandlaguda, Kurmaguda, Galbalguda near Tadbun, Bapunagar, Kotla Alijah, New Moosarambagh, Rajiv Gandhi Nagar in Khairatabad.

Court stays

In some cases, private parties have obtained court stays resulting in the school building work coming to a standstill.

"There is no question of yielding to pressure. We will take police protection and continue construction," said Hyderabad Collector R.V. Chandravadan.

Under the SSA it is planned to construct 100 school buildings this year at a cost of Rs. 27 crores. There are a total of 821 Government schools in the twin cities of which 226 are housed in Government buildings and 210 in rented premises. With great difficulty 45 sites have been identified. But a few of them have run into dispute the moment compound walls are raised. Some persons are laying claim to the land and in some cases promptly obtaining stays.

At ten other spots technical snags have come in the way of construction, forcing the authorities to look for alternate sites, said S.M. Ghulam Hussain, Additional Project Coordinator, SSA.

However, construction is progressing at 12 places where there are no land disputes.

At the instance of the Chief Minister, the district authorities have recently identified 60 open sites belonging to MCH and other Government departments for construction of school buildings.