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Rs 96.5 crore blown up in five years, not a drop to drink

Firms milked Gogoi government’s PHE scheme, beneficiary schools left high & dry

By Our Staff Reporter

Guwahati, June 13: In its last five fincial years, the previous Tarun Gogoi government had spent Rs 96.5 crore to provide roof-top rain water harvesting systems in schools. Implemented by the State Public Health Engineering department, the sole beneficiaries of the scheme appears to be the firms which installed the systems in the schools – since the students and school staff did not get even a drop of water to drink after all those efforts.

Sources said some select firms were roped in to implement the scheme. Among them were M/S Charu Technology Pvt Ltd, Universal Pipes Pvt Ltd, Brahmaputra Udyog Pvt Ltd, SRK Metals &Plastic Pvt Ltd, PP Industries, Om Shree Products and Kuber Plastic Pvt Ltd. On paper, all the firms completed installing the systems in the beneficiary schools. Pipes were fitted to collect rain water from roof-tops for storage in tanks at the school premises.

However, the systems were never used nor the school staff instructed on how to operate them.

This reporter visited a few schools in and around Guwahati, and in all the schools – Patgaon Primary School, ndimikir Primary School (Sachal), Bullarpar LP School (near LGBI airport) and Shyambhoomi ME School (near LGBI airport) – the systems were lying unused, even after onset of the rainy season.

“We did not get drinking water from those systems even for a single day,” was the common refrain of students in the schools.

There are also allegations that equipments used to set up the systems were of substandard quality, already showing signs of wear and tear at some schools.

“This is a perfect example of wasteful expenditure incurred by the government. I don’t think the system is functiol in any of the schools where it was installed. The contractors left after setting up the systems. They did not even instruct us how to use them. Moreover, in Assam, we are not used to drinking rain water. Overall, the scheme was not at all realistic,” said a teacher of a school who did not wish to be med.

If the new government carries out a proper review of the scheme in the beneficiary schools, the real picture of yet another instance of wasteful expenditure of public money will come to light.

About the author

Ankur Kalita