School Builds Shops For Business Inside Campus

Shops built adjacent to the boundary wall of the school compound. Picture by Pranab DebanthShops built adjacent to the boundary wall of the school compound. Picture by Pranab Debanth

NfN NETWORK

Krishnanagar, April 14: The Nadia district administration has asked a government affiliated high school authorities to demolish a shopping complex it has allegedly constructed inside the campus and sold it to some businessmen.

Annoyed over the alleged misuse of the land and suspected siphoning of money out of it, district administration has ordered a probe into the alleged financial deal with some businessmen and show caused the head master of the Dignagar High School asking him to submit his reply within a week.

The locals have complained that a section of the school’s Trinamul run managing committee members have siphoned over Rupees fifty lakhs selling the shops at an average of Rupees six lakhs and not deposited any amount to the school fund.

Nadia district inspector of schools Mitali Dutta said: “Such construction on school’s land is absolutely illegal. This is misuse of power and government property. I have directed the head master to demolish the shops immediately otherwise action would be taken against him”.

The teachers of the school including those who also represent in the managing committee yesterday walked out of the committee’s meeting protesting illegal construction.

The management of Dignagar high school, located close to National highway 34, during February this year started construction of shops inside the school campus facing the road.

A teacher of the school on anonymity said: “The obvious reason for construction of shops was lure for lucre. A good number of shops adjacent to the NH34 are to be dismantled by the district administration to acquire land for the ongoing four-laning works. A section of the school management wanted to use this opportunity to do a business using the school’s land as once the four laning works done, the school would come closer to the NH34 and demand for its adjacent land would rise”.

But the locals become angry about the decision of the school, who lodged complaints at different levels of the district administration demanding its immediate intervention.

Annoyed over the allegations district magistrate Sumit Gupta in March ordered a probe forming a two-member team consisting of DI of schools (secondary) Mitali Dutta and District project officer (Sarbasikksha Mission) Sacchidananda Bandopadhaya.

In last week the two officers submitted their findings before the DM, who directed the DI to ask the school authorities to demolish the shops and to issue show cause notice to the head master.

DM Sumit Gupta said: “The school has no authority to construct any construction for commercial purposes inside the campus. The state education department is actually the owner of the land inside the campus. So school has no right to construct any shop over there and to sale the same to anybody. This is illegal and the school authority has to demolish those shops immediately”.

The school authorities have, however, found nothing illegal in construction of shops and selling them to the businessmen.

Head master of the sch0ol Nabakumar Goswami said: “We have done it from our social commitment. Some shop owners who would lose their shops owing to acquisition of land for the four laning works of NH34 requested us to construct shops on the school land adjacent to the expanded road. The school managing committee later accepted their request and constructed the shops for them on lease basis for 99 years on monthly rental basis of Rupees 200 only”.

However, locals are not convinced about this interpretation.

“A section of the school committee simply on personal gain constructed these shops and sold to businessmen. They have taken an average Rupee six lakhs rupees from the businessmen and not kept any record for the sale of the shops”, said a teacher on condition of anonymity.

Refuting the allegation local Trinamul leader and president of school’s MC Biplab Biswas said: “We have not taken any money from the businessmen. The businessmen who taken the shops invested money for the construction work”.

However, businessmen like Mantu Debnath, Prakash Debnath categorically acknowledged that they purchased the shops from the school authorities.

Prakash Debnath said: “I paid Rupees six lakhs to the school committee president Biplab Biswas two months ago”.

Mantu Debnath said that he paid Rupees three lakhs as a part to the committee president Biswas.

“The payments were handled by the president of the MC. However, head master Nabakumar Goswami also knew about these transactions very well”.