Unauthorised school let off the hook?

Sumit Bhattacharjee

VISAKHAPATNAM: If the Right to Information Act is meant to deepen the spirit of democracy, then both citizens and the authorities should be proactive and go beyond the Act to plug the lacunae. But that doesn't seem to be happening, especially at the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation.

Responding to a query under the RTI Act, after much delay, on the unauthorised operation of a school in a residential colony, GVMC did acknowledge the wrongful status of the school but has not acted upon it.
The corporate school, which is located in SBI Colony near Sivaji Park, is housed in a two-storied residential building. A communication from the commissioner's office in GVMC did clearly state the unlawful utilisation of the building by the school management but none of the departments, including health, has addressed the issue so far.

The residents have been facing a number of problems due to the school. Being primarily a residential colony, the 30-feet road is choked throughout the day with bicycles, two-wheelers and autorickshaws. There was no modification done to the residential building to take care of the sanitation of over 200 students as per zoning rules and the small drainage is the only outlet.

Children can be seen using the open spaces in front of other houses for relieving themselves.

There is no playground and the 30-feet road is the makeshift ground. Even the District Education Officer under a RTI query stated that the school is un-recognised.

Residents cry foul

Though the GVMC authorities have been talking of wrong use of buildings and taking necessary actions as per the HMC Act of 1955, so far nothing has moved. Residents allege that the school administration has been using wrong methods to pacify GVMC officials.

A resident said, "The commissioner referred back saying that no action can be taken under the RTI Act but action will be initiated under the HMC Act. But that was a year-and-a-half ago. If the authorities go by the rules, then there are quite a few schools within MVP Colony itself that are unlawful."

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