Three youngsters, still in their teens, were taking their afternoon nap on the terrace when the subtle noise of camera-clicks woke one of them up. When one of the youngster saw this correspondent clicking pictures of the liquor bottles and cigarette stubs strewn on the floor, he rushed down and offered an explanation “These bottles and cigarette packets belong to people who come here during the night.”
The building where they were sleeping is a multi-storeyed primary school constructed at Balreddy Nagar in Film Nagar in Hyderabad. The school was constructed under the Rajiv Vidya Mission (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)) programme, and construction was completed in the year 2012. A sum Rs. 43 lakhs is the estimated expenditure for construction of the building.
But three years since its construction, the building has still not been inaugurated by the government, and is now a den of vice.
Leaving the building non-functional for such a long time has turned it into a hangout place for adolescents and young men from the nearby basti.
The school building, which has six classrooms and could have easily accommodated around 200-250 students, now provides space for drunkards to drink in peace. Every single room had broken bottles, glasses, cigarette stubs, water bottles and rags scattered around.
Many of the switches, switchboards, tube lights and fans have gone missing over time. The blackboards of the school have been ruined as miscreants have made inscriptions with sharp instruments. Dogs too seem to have found permanent residence in the building.
“The rooms look clean. Someone might have cleaned it a day or two ago,” the youngster said.
Two of his friends were still sleeping on the terrace and he kept speaking without catching a breath “We have a long tiring work schedule which usually ends at 1 am in the night. We don’t go back to
our places as it is too late by the time we return. We don’t drink here. We just come to rest.”
A much younger boy, around 11-12-year-old, was flying a kite on the terrace and studies in a school located outside the basti.
“Private tuitions are conducted for students belonging to primary classes during the evenings. A teacher who lives there (the boy points at a nearby building) takes these paid classes,” the boy said and continued flying his kite.
“At least 40-50 children in this basti don’t go to any school. There are four other schools located close to this basti, but most of them are around 1 km away from here. I wouldn’t say there is a dearth of schools, but it is unexplainable why this school can’t be operated,” said Sanjeev Kumar, an RTI activist who works with Rainbow Foundation.
Sanjeev came across the school during a street children census the organisation conducted.
When contacted, the SSA officials of Hyderabad district said they have been “transferred recently.” “I will look into the files. We will definitely follow up,” said one of the senior officials of SSA.