Thursday, July 8, 2010

For Village security, school razed

In an attempt to secure the Commonwealth Games Village, Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on Wednesday razed a school on the Yamuna Khadar, right behind the Akshardham Temple. The school catered to about 180 children of farmers and labourers working in and around the river bed.

Parminder Kaur Somal, who started the school four years back and was teaching here said, DDA had given them no prior notice and arrived with their bulldozers around noon. "The classes were in progress when the DDA team, accompanied by police personnel, arrived at the school. They gave us three hours to clear out and then brought the building down. One official also said if we would furnish an affidavit saying the school would only be reopened after the Games, it could be spared but what could we have done in three hours,'' she said.

While officials maintained the building was totally illegal and no structures were permitted on the river bed, those associated with the school pointed out that compared to the number of unauthorized structures that had come up on the river bed, many of them with the sanction of the government, this was only providing education to poor children who otherwise would never be able to afford going to school. "The government should have thought about giving the children an alternative space at least. If we had known about their plans to demolish the structure any earlier, we could have tried moving out to another place,'' said Somal.

She said eight acres land had been leased to the Delhi Peasant Society in 1949 for a period of 99 years and they had a stay order from the high court prohibiting any further construction in the area. "We have been running classes from nursery to V. Some children who passed out from here have also joined MCD schools. We were working with eight teachers and some volunteers. Now the children have again been left high and dry. We can't imagine what security threat they could have posed to the Games Village,'' said Somal.

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