With nearly 3,500 schools have been declared unsafe, the scarcity of suitable place to study apparently posing a serious challenge to Punjab government’s claims to implement ‘smart’ education system in the state.

The fact has come to the fore during the Punjab Assembly session after state Higher and School Education minister, Aruna Chaudhary informed the House that as many as 3,488 classrooms in 1,446 government schools have been declared unsafe.

The minister further informed that buildings of 80 government schools, 74 primary and six senior secondary schools are unsafe for which 199 classrooms are required.

Similarly, 195 classrooms have been approved for these schools under RIDF 2017-18. Chaudhary’s reply came in response to a query raised by Aam Aadmi Party (APP) legislator from Sunam in Sangrur district, Aman Arora.

AAP legislator pointed out that number of buildings and rooms of the schools throughout the state has been declared unsafe at present.

He told The Statesman that he raised the issue after doing a detailed survey about the dilapidated condition of school buildings in his own constituency. He said, state government’s primary responsibility should be towards education and health.

“But the condition of dilapidated classrooms is telling a sorry state of affairs. The government is talking about to make ‘smart’ classrooms, but ignoring the existing infrastructure. The unsafe classrooms should have been demolished and constructed immediately. I raised the point after doing a detailed survey in my own constituency,” he said.

The education minister, in her reply, has also informed that a fund of Rs 108 Crore has been approved under the schemes like National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) respectively, for the construction of 1,414 classrooms.

However, the funds are yet awaited. She also informed the House that proposal for remaining 2,074 classrooms will be forwarded under SSA, RMSA and NABARD RIDF for the financial year 2018-19.

Sources said, there are numerous other government schools lack the appropriate space as the buildings have been razed after being asserted as unsafe by the Public Works Department.

These schools are reportedly using buildings of other departments, including sarai (Hostelery), which apparently are unsuitable to be used as school buildings.

“The students in schools are increasing every year and it is becoming all the more difficult to adjust them in limited classrooms. The government was sanctioning grants to the schools for constructing new rooms each year, but the amount was much less than required. The government has enrolled 1.60 Lakh to began the new session for pre-primary classes, but paucity of classrooms will affect the education ambiance,” said a government school principal requesting anonymity.