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CM’s promise forgotten? Karnataka schools told to pay power, water bills

As per data available from the department, the government needs Rs 24 crore per annum to pay the electricity and water bills of state-run schools and PU colleges.
Last Updated 24 February 2024, 23:56 IST

Contrary to the government’s order on providing free power and water to state-run schools, the Samagra Shikshana Karnataka (SSK) has issued a circular asking schools to clear dues till March 2024 on their own.

Dues towards electricity and water bills for 2023-24 (up to March) must be cleared by utilising funds released from SSK funds, the circular said. This has irked School Development and Monitoring Committees (SDMCs).

Raising objections to SSK’s direction, SDMC members say that the school funds released were sufficient for maintenance works of schools, which includes maintenance of toilets, library and playground, etc. and providing drinking water.

“It is true that they have increased the maintenance funds, but that doesn’t mean they should tweak the earlier order of the government,” Prabhakara, SDMC president of a government school in Chikkamagaluru said.

Before announcing free electricity and water to government schools in the budget, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah announced this during the Kannada Rajyotsava event in November 2023. 

He directed the department officials to issue an order in this regard. Following the directions, the department had issued an order in December 2023, asking deputy directors of all districts to submit details about funds needed for payment of electricity and water bills. 

On February 20, the SSK has issued a circular, referring to the December 15, 2023 order by the department of school education and literacy.

It has asked the deputy directors of all districts to pay the electricity and water bills of government schools and PU colleges up to March 24, utlising school maintenance funds released by SSK.

When contacted, a senior official of the department said this circular by SSK followed an increase in the funds released to schools.

“The schools have got annual maintenance funds both from the department and SSK and even the amount has been increased. This could be the reason for SSK asking schools to pay the bills,” said a senior official of the department.

As per data available from the department, the government needs Rs 24 crore per annum to pay the electricity and water bills of state-run schools and PU colleges.

All these years, there were no funds set aside and teachers used to pay the bills from their pockets, between Rs 8,000 and Rs 40,000 per year.

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(Published 24 February 2024, 23:56 IST)

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