Schools as Malls in Delhi

Everyone is bothered about the short term capital gains than the long term social dividends. This careless attitude of the government and people is playing havoc with the future of India. Almost all the projects are short-sighted. Whether unveiling education policy or environmental safety or rural development, all the proposals are hastily taken decisions. There are not enough of deliberations over the crucial decisions. Imagine the passing of 8 important bills in just seventeen minutes in the Lok Sabha. Following this ‘blind ayes have it syndrome’, the Delhi government has got a mad proposal from vested interests in its backyard to convert fifteen of its schools into shopping malls.

This silly proposal from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) is to show its financial position in a better light. Prithviraj Shani, Chairman of the MCD education committee says TOI (2.1.2008, p.6) “We have identified 60 schools that have been lying vacant. A proposal to auction 15 schools has been forwarded to commissioner K.S.Mehra”.

60 of the MCD school campuses are up for sale to see swanky malls and hotels. Out of these sixty school sites, fifteen are already identified and sent for clearance from the government. In Delhi 65% of the primary schools are operated by the MCD with 9 lakh students availing education. Poor and very poor families sent their children to these schools. Another 4 lakh children are not going to school due to extreme poverty and other reasons.

The logic given to the sale proposal of MCD is that the existing sites are lying vacant for a long time. According to the Municipal officials, Delhi population is not keen to avail government education and they have reached upper economic level to send their children to rich private schools. Why the government is not enthusiastic in bringing 4 lakh not school going children? Ashok Nagar school which is 1.5 acres is for sale. But there are 1200 not schooling children in the same area. There are 30,000 children without adequate play fields in and around Ashok Nagar. School campuses in Karanpur 3,158 sqm, 2350sqm Moti Nagar East are declared as spots for sale. These areas too have many not school going children. How can the poor children avail schooling when there is no school? Mere site is not enough. There needs to be a building, teachers, incentives, sanitation and other basic necessities for learning.

This decision of the Delhi government is not surprising. Whoever comes to power they will work for rich and mighty. Poor goes poorer without any care from the government. All the common properties like schools, crematoriums, hospitals, parks are up for the sale. The ministry of railways sold lakhs of its land and projected its budget very good and earned the efficiently working administration. Similarly other ministries are following the trick of selling solid properties to show big liquid cash positions. In the interest to fool the public, the ministries are digging a long grave for the social collapse.

If the existing school lands are unused then convert them into playing grounds or make them old age homes or vocational education training centres but not as shopping malls. It is selling the family silver to buy a fancy toy. The Government of Delhi should learn from the past mistakes and others collapse. More investment in the social capital and increasing the availability of common property will strengthen the society in the long run. Just increasing the revenue without adequate social development is of no use. The early the government understands this truth it is better for the nation’s capital.

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