The Andhra Pradesh government on Monday instructed all district educational officers to collect Rs 10 each from all students and teachers in about 64,000 educational institutions spread across the state as a contribution towards its new capital of 'Amaravati'.
According to a report in the Times of India, the government has decided to involve about 70 lakh students and three lakh teachers in the construction of the capital city and they have been instructed to deposit the money before January 10.
Quoting sources, the report also adds that officials have decided to deduct Rs 10 each from the monthly 'cosmetic charges' paid to students of government-run hostels and residential schools.
The ruling TDP government which is severely cash-strapped, had earlier launched the ‘My Brick-My Amaravati’ initiative, where people could donate a minimum of Rs 10 for a brick, or a maximum of Rs 100 crore.
The move has been heavily criticized by the Opposition party and child right activists, who have said that this was against the children's right to education, with the Balala Hakkula Sangham demanding on Tuesday that the circular be withdrawn.
According to reports, YSRCP leader Botsa Satyanarayana said "The state, on its part, has never observed austerity measures. The CM has been leading an extravagant lifestyle by using chartered fights and spending huge amounts on unproductive activities. This apart, corruption has become rampant due to the defective policies."
"He (the CM) diluted the fee reimbursement and is now resorting to collection of donations from students," he added.
However, state HRD minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao told TOI that the donation is purely voluntary and added "The move is aimed at creating a sense of ownership over Amaravati among students and teachers. It is a small amount and we have instructed officials not to force any student."