A new school building constructed in Thrissur district has started to leak in the rains, with the cement in the wall coming off when touched. This points towards huge corruption in its construction, say the locals and alumni of the school. According to them, even a drizzle is enough to make the classrooms leak.
The construction, part of the Kerala government's smart classroom project, is in Chembuchira Government Higher Secondary school. It was supposed to be inaugurated this month, but the builders have already started to break down the cement in the walls as it has started coming off.
A few of locals and alumi have brought the issue to the attention of the media, and they have also filed a complaint with the state Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau (VACB). The complaint given to the VACB by Bineesh MN, a local resident, says, "The plastering below the roofing has started to come off. The plastering on the parapet has been washed out totally in the rains. The iron rods used for the construction are visible now. The tiles used in the flooring have also cracked."
The complaint adds that the building might fall in the coming monsoon season, putting the lives of the children and teachers in danger. There are also allegations that the representatives of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and contractors are involved in the corruption. Ironically, the school is situated in the constituency of state Education Minister C Raveendranath.
Athul Krishna, a civil engineer and an old student of the school, alleges that the construction has serious flaws.
"Now what we see is the problems in the plastering. But there are many more issues, in concreting and beam construction. There has been huge corruption in the construction," he alleged. "They have used only site mixed concrete and the quality of that is questionable. Recently, it rained for 10 minutes and water entered the classrooms," he added.
He also alleged that representatives of the PTA who were present during the construction work most of the time knew about these problems. "They took bribes from the contractor to hide the defects in the construction. We know that they took money like this many times," he claimed.
According to Athul, around Rs 31 lakh from the fund to build the school could have been misappropriated.
"It is a project worth Rs 3.87 crore. From this, Rs 87 lakh was from the MLA fund and Rs 3 crore was given by the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB). But in a letter given by the contractor to the school authority, it was mentioned that Rs 3.56 crore was the total budget. So, we have doubts about the remaining amount," he alleged.
Another native and alumnus of the school, Yadhu Krishna, said that the constructors claim that the leakage is only in the joining areas.
"They claim that the leakage is only in the place where the new building joins the old building. But that is not true. We can see the plastering coming off when we touch it. Now they have started removing the plastering to do it again. But even the structure inside is not powerful. What is the use in replacing the plastering?" he asked.
Meanwhile, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala visited the site and alleged that there was major corruption in the project.