PESHAWAR: Mushtaq Ahmed Ghani, spokesman for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, said on Wednesday that the federal government should have conducted an inquiry into the demolition of 900 quake-hit government schools in Hazara division that could have been repaired. He claimed that these schools had suffered a minor damage in Oct 2005 earthquake and were in usable condition, but demolished to auction the debris.
Speaking at a press conference at Peshawar Press Club, he said that the federal government should immediately release Rs15 billion for reconstruction of the schools destroyed in the earthquake.
Answering a question about who demolished the schools having received minor damage, the spokesman said that authorities at the helm of affairs at that time were responsible for the unnecessary demolition of the government schools.
Claims 900 schools with minor damage demolished to auction debris
The press conference was also attended by Minister for Elementary and Secondary Education Mohammad Atif and senior officials of the education department.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Atif said that the federal government had conducted a survey after the 2005 earthquake and identified 2,909 extensively damaged government schools that were to be reconstructed by it.
The 900 government schools were demolished after the survey, he said, adding that these schools were not included in the 2,909 fully damaged schools. Of the 900 schools, around 150 were reconstructed by different NGOs while the provincial government had taken responsibility for the reconstruction of 750 schools.
The education minister said that Rs8 billion had been allocated in ADP for the fiscal year 2014-15 for the reconstruction of 750 schools.
He said that the federal government had taken responsibility for the reconstruction of 2,909 schools. For reconstruction of the damaged infrastructure, the government had established the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority and Provincial Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority.
Of the 2,909 fully damaged schools, 1,275 couldn’t be rebuilt by the federal government despite the lapse of 11 years, he said. In the absence of proper buildings, he said, millions of students were compelled to get education in an atmosphere not conducive for the purpose. The estimated cost of the remaining schools was Rs15 billion, the education minister said. He demanded of the federal government to immediately release the required fund to the Erra to launch reconstruction of the schools. “If the federal government could spend billions of rupees on the Metro Bus and Orange Train why not on the reconstruction of schools in Hazara division,” he asked.
He said that Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif had promised with the people of Hazara division during an election rally that he would soon release Rs8 billion for reconstruction of the schools. The education minister also shared a video clip of the prime minister’s speech in which he had made that promise.
If the federal government failed to release the fund, the education minister warned to stage a sit-in along with millions of students and their parents in Islamabad.
Mr Ghani said that different countries had donated billions of rupees fund for reconstruction of the schools. “No one knows where the fund was utilised as the schools have not been rebuilt yet,” he said.
The spokesman for the provincial government demanded of the prime minister to order an inquiry into the funds donated by different countries for the reconstruction of the quake-hit schools.
Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2016