Years on, Election commission occupies city civic school classrooms

06:43 AM Feb 19, 2020 |
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Mumbai: Even years after elections, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has failed to get the state election commission to vacate its classrooms/premises. While some of the classrooms have been occupied since 2009, others were taken up during 2014 and 2019 elections.

Meanwhile, BMC schools are facing issues with the non-availability of laboratories and halls for academic and non-academic activities. The state election commission has been occupying over 35 classrooms and 15 halls in around 12 civic-run schools for years now.

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Confirming the same, civic education officer Mahesh Palkar told the Free Press Journal that they have communicated with the commission on several occasions but in vain. “We have written to the administration of the state election commission several times, requesting them to vacate our premises. However, they are yet to do so. School administrations are facing difficulties in organising academic and non-academic activities.”

Prior to elections, the state election commission needs rooms for electoral activities or for storage. BMC school premises come handy for them. Classrooms and halls used as polling stations are vacated immediately, but some of them are held up till counting. However, those used for storing election-related equipment and materials are retained for years.

“They cannot use our premises as storage for years. We need our classrooms back for academic purposes. We have no problem sharing them during elections and even for a few months after that. However, why occupy them for years when there is absolutely no need. This inconveniences our students. It is a sorry state that the BMC administration has failed to get our premises vacated to date,” said a principal of a school in the western suburbs.

“There are classrooms which have been occupied by the commission since 2009. Labs are being used as storage space and are locked cutting down access to our students completely.” said a principal of a civic-run school in south Mumbai.

Shivnath Darade, general secretary Mumbai Shikshak Parishad and former member of the BMC education committee, blamed the civic body for this situation.

“This issue shows that despite being Asia’s richest civic body the BMC is powerless. For years, it could not take its classrooms back from the state election commission, and the school administrations are struggling each day. BMC should have taken stringent measures to get their premises back by now,” said Darade.

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