Century-old schools in DK, Udupi districts face crises

163 century-old schools in DK, Udupi districts face crises

The 141-year-old Nellikatte Government Primary School building in Puttur, prior to its demolition.

On January 14, 2019, Puttur based writer Dr S N Amrith Malla wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in order to draw his attention to the pathetic condition of the 141-year-old Nellikatte Government Primary School building in Puttur.

In November this year, Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat (DKZP) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Kumar, responding to a letter from Dr Amrith Malla, had promised to release funds to the tune of Rs 53.50 lakh to help School Development and Monitoring Committee (SDMC) to carry out repair works and help the school regain its glory.

A fortnight ago the school that had withstood many challenges was reduced to rubble sending shock waves across the district.

With Dakshina Kannada Deputy Commissioner Dr Rajendra K V seeking a report into the Nellikatte school demolition incident, the blame game has begun.

Dr Amrith told DH that a similar fate awaits schools in the district that are 100 plus years old.

Heritage schools

In 2018, then Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy had set aside funds to help 100 ‘heritage schools’ across the state carry out repair works without harming the historical, architectural, cultural and aesthetic structure of buildings.

According to the government’s order (ED 108-2018, 31-12-2018), the heritage schools will receive an annual grant of Rs 2.5 lakh. 

According to information obtained under RTI by DH, three among 72 schools in Udupi and three among 91 schools in DK that are above 100 years old had been identified as heritage schools.

In the past three years, these heritage schools had received a total grant of Rs 5 lakh each, information obtained under RTI revealed.

PPP model

Dr Amrith Malla blames MLAs for neglecting such century-old schools, which eventually are demolished.

“MLAs are aware of the needs of schools, as polling booths are set up in these schools. During polling, some amount is spent on creating toilets, drinking and other facilities in the schools,” informs Dr Amrith.

“The amount released for repair works in heritage schools by the government is insufficient. The budget estimate for repair works planned at Nellikatte Government Primary School was Rs 70 lakh,” said Dr Amrith and urged the district administration to maintain and preserve such heritage schools under the private-public partnership (PPP) model.

“For instance, even 0.5 per cent of the money collected for Brahmakalashotsavas (renovation) of temples is sufficient to help these heritage schools, once a known landmark, regain their glory,” he adds.  

Multi-departmental committee to submit a report on the demolition

DK Deputy Director of Public Instruction (DDPI) Malleswamy told DH that their report on the Nellikatte government school demolition incident submitted to DK ZP CEO had been rejected.

“The ZP CEO has set up a committee with officials from different departments including PWD. The committee is expected to submit its report on the demolition soon,” he added.

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