The Defence Housing Authority (DHA) is bent on punishing one of the city’s leading schools for not accommodating a request from a senior DHA official for admissions.
A request was made in April by a senior Vigilance officer for admission, said the school principal. When admission was declined because by that time admissions had been closed, the vigilance department first tried to remove traffic cones put in front of the seven schools situated on and around Saba Avenue (Phase VIII) to streamline heavy school traffic. The traffic programme, initiated by the School Traffic Management Programme and the Darakhshan police station, has been in operation for the last six years with the permission of the DHA.
When DHA was finally persuaded to let the traffic cones stay, in May and June it began to dump heavy pre-fabricated construction material in front of one of the schools. No construction has happened in the last two months, and last week more pre-fab drain pipes were unloaded in front of the school. Schools start this week, when these construction material are bound to cause a serious inconvenience to school traffic and be a source of hazard for schoolchildren crossing Khayaban-e-Roomi.
There’s a large empty plot on the side of Saba Avenue where all of this and more construction material could have been easily stored, say observers, who add that settling scores with school management at the cost of children’s safety is not very prudent.
Not surprisingly, and as if this was not enough, first the DHA sent a notice to the school concerned — and later to all schools in the area — citing a long list of violations, none of which were more than for setting up temporary shades. The particular school concerned was then sent another notice, citing violations and slapping them with a fine of Rs80 million. This absurdly large fine was for various violations ranging from the erection of iron frames to support green cloth shades, to wooden sheds, to canteen construction on the campus. Most schools in Karachi, especially in the DHA area, put up temporary green (cloth) shades to protect children from the sun and provide some shade.
The principal of one of the schools sent a letter on July 19 to DHA, requesting for the construction material to be removed. A vigilance officer did visit the site upon the receipt of this letter.
However, more pipes and construction material followed within the next hour or so.
Now with schools opening in a day or two, the dumping of all this construction material, which will only cause inconvenience to parents bringing their children to school, appears to be a blatant misuse of authority on a personal grievance, say observers. The school authorities said that they hoped that DHA would take notice of this irregularity and facilitate the smooth flow of traffic in the school area to make it safe for students and children to be able to go to their cars without risking being injured by the construction material.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2011.