Friday, July 20, 2012

Government will reclaim encroached village lands to set up schools

Ambika Pandit, TNN | Jul 20, 2012, 01.50AM IST

NEW DELHI: As part of a major drive, the Delhi government's revenue department will step up action to free large tracts of gram sabha land from the clutches of encroachers. The reclaimed land will be allotted to the education department for setting up of schools so that the RTE Act can be implemented in its true spirit. The drive will cover all nine districts.

Reeling under a shortage of schools for decades, villages like Dindarpur in Najafgarh are a telling example of how encroachments have deprived children of education, and residents of basic facilities like dispensaries and maternity homes. TOI visited Dindarpur to take a look at the ground reality.

As one enters the area, a red school building with a sprawling playground can be seen on one side of Jhatikra intersection. A board hangs outside saying this government school for boys was inaugurated a fortnight ago. Once you're inside the premises, you find out that this used to be private school which came up on gram sabha land over a decade ago. A legal battle followed as the Dindarpur Gram Sudhar Samiti fought to get the land back from the encroachers. The row ended only with the intervention of the Supreme Court in 2011 when all states were directed to remove illegal constructions from gram sabha land. The revenue department issued eviction orders but when authorities failed to abide by the directive, the school was sealed and handed over to the Delhi government's education department in March.

Sub-divisional magistrate (Najafgarh), Krishna Mohan Uppu, said, "To ensure that the infrastructure is not wasted, the school was allotted to the education department. In two other such cases, gram sabha land has been allotted to schools. In one case, an ice factory was shut down to make way for a school since schools are needed to meet requirements of the RTE Act," Uppu said.

Till the school at Jhatikra intersection was handed over to the government, children of Dindarpur had no choice but to study in a crammed school on an adjacent road. "The new school has provided much relief. It has more than 1,000 boys on the rolls. The education department has planned a new block to accommodate more students," said Dindarpur Gram Sudhar Samiti member Deen Dayal. Another Samiti member Satbir Singh said that both his sons have joined the new school which is expected to cater to nearly 20 unauthorized colonies in Dindarpur.

Delhi's revenue secretary and divisional commissioner Vijay Dev says that strict action will be taken to free more gram sabha land. "The Supreme Court directive will be implemented aggressively. All nine districts have been asked to identify Gram Sabha land under encroachment and lying vacant. The reclaimed land will first be allotted for schools so that the RTE Act can be fully implemented. Health facilities are our next priority," Dev said. The surveys have already been completed in northwest and northeast districts.

Copyright © 2012 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved.

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