CHATRA: For the past six months, more than 700 girls studying in a government school in Jharkhand’s Chatra district have been eating the bare minimum and drinking little water, so that they do not have to go knocking at the doors of people to use the toilet. Swami Vivekanand Higher Secondary School, located about a kilometre from the Mayurhund block headquarters and spread over five acres, has a stadium, but not a single toilet at present.The contractor who was assigned the work of renovation demolished the existing toilets without providing any alternative.
The school has nearly 1,100 students and even the boys and male teachers face problems, but they somehow manage by attending nature’s call in the wild or in the fields. The women teachers have found a solution by renting out rooms with washroom facilities during the day, but they have to shell out extra money for the arrangement. Out of 20 teachers, three are women, besides two female non-teaching staff, said a teacher.
The district authorities and the state education department have been apprised of the situation, but no immediate relief has been provided other than giving assurances.
State education secretary K Ravi Kumar told TOI: “The education department has pinpointed schools in need of restroom facilities. We have formulated a proposal and the construction of these essential facilities is going on in around 113 schools, with a strong commitment to addressing this issue soon.”
Long-term plans are of little consolation to the students, who go through a daily nightmare. A class X student said she and her classmates felt embarrassed going to nearby houses to relieve themselves, but had no other option. “The villagers are cooperative and allow us to use their toilets as they know our problem, but we still feel ashamed seeking their help every day,” the teenager said.
District education officer Dinesh Kumar Mishra said the construction of new toilets would be completed soon, but could not give any assurance about making temporary arrangements. A meeting scheduled in this regard on October 31 was cancelled, a teacher at the school said. Letters were sent to elected representatives, including Chatra MP Sunil Singh, seeking a solution to the problem, but to no avail, the teacher added.
Apart from the stadium, the school campus also has a building where a residential girls school functioned earlier, and has now been shifted elsewhere. “The stadium and the old building, now under lock and key, have enough toilets to sort out our problem. These are lying unused, but no authority is talking about using them,” rued a teacher.
However, the school principal, Rajendra Das, told TOI that none of the female students wanted to use the toilets of any of the two buildings, as both are situated at the far end of the school campus and are unsafe. “The best option is that the contractor completes the work as soon as possible,” he added. Contractor Bhuneshwar Mahto claimed the construction of toilets was held up because of the lack of funds, “as the sanctioned amount of around 2 crore was used in renovating and building new classrooms and the boundary wall”. Mayurhund block development officer Saket Kumar Sinha told TOI that he would soon visit the school to ensure toilet construction work was restarted with allocation of funds from the District Mineral Foundation Trust as soon as possible. However, even Sinha was mum on making alternative arrangements till the work was completed.

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