Yogi gets court notice on bad quality school supplies

Local media quoted school students saying the shoes and bags they received from UP Govt did not last even five months. Reports highlighted the plight of students forced to walk barefoot to schools

Photo courtesy: Deepak Gupta/Hindustan Times
Photo courtesy: Deepak Gupta/Hindustan Times

Biswajeet Banerjee

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath takes pride in his Government’s initiative to provide free school bags, shoes and socks to the 1.54 crore students of primary and upper primary students across the state. However, the shoes and school bags supplied by UP Govt did not last even the guarantee/warranty period of 12 months. Many of these were of poor quality and have been reduced to tatters.

The state government finds its back to the wall as reports have started pouring in from across the state that students are forced to wear torn shoes or walk barefoot to school. Reports quoted students saying that the shoes which they received during Diwali did not last even five months. Ditto is the case with the school bags, which have opened at the seams or the zippers have gone kaput.

Basic Education minister Anupama Jaiswal said that she is aware of the problems school children are facing. “This government will ensure that all students get quality uniform including shoes and bags,” the minister said. These shoes carry warranty of 12 months and would be replaced by the supplier, she added.

The Government had spent ₹219 crore for purchase of school bags and another ₹266 crore on purchase of shoes. The shoes was priced at ₹135.75 while the pair of socks cost ₹21.85. These purchases were made between July and October 2017 and astonishingly despite carrying a warranty of one year, they could not last even eight months.

Director, Basic Education Sarvendra Vikram Bahadur Singh stated in a letter on March 26 that the tender was covered by comprehensive warranty against any defect for a period of 12 months from the date of complete supply at delivery points and the supplier would be liable to replace faulty school bags, shoes and socks due to any defect within 15 days after intimation of the defects to the suppliers.

“In case of failure to comply with the rules, the supplier shall be liable to deduction of 5% of the total amount of all the faulty bags, shoes and socks, which are to be replaced,” he said in the letter.

Photo courtesy: Deepak Gupta/Hindustan Times
Photo courtesy: Deepak Gupta/Hindustan Times
Students with their torn shoes which were distributed to them by Yogi government 

The Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court took suo moto cognisance of news reports and issued a notice to the state government. The court in its notice said: “… it appears that the noble cause of the Government of distribution of shoes and socks 1.54 crore students at a cost of Rs.266 crores has been completely defeated on account of the abysmal quality of the shoes and it thus appears that everything is not fine with the quality of shoes that have been purchased for being distributed to the school going children, the shoes having worn out of most of the children in four months!.”

The court further said: “Thus the very purpose of the distribution of shoes to the students has been defeated on account of the extremely poor quality of the shoes purchased by the officials of the Government. It thus appears that the tax payers’ money spent by the Government in an extremely noble cause has been wasted on account of the callous action on the part of the irresponsible officials …”

The state government was forced to admit that “some” of the shoes were of poor quality. In a press release issued on Wednesday, the sate government admitted that in Lucknow 1,72,113 pair of shoes were distributed of which around 15,000 have been found defective.

The big question is, if this is the situation in state capital Lucknow, what would be the scenario in smaller districts or far away schools? “I did raise the issue in the Vidhan Sabha during the budget session. I can vouch that poor quality uniform is being distributed among students of Siddharthnagar district. They did not last even four months, what to talk about one year,” said Congress Legislature Party leader Ajay Kumar Lallu.

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