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Ensure power supply at exam centres, HC tells Maharashtra government

The Bombay High Court on Friday directed the Maharashtra government to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply in schools during SSC and HSC examinations in October and asked it to depute officers in all examination centres to assess the power situation and suggest measures.

A bench of Justice Abhay Oka was hearing a contempt petition filed by activist Vishnu Gawli alleging that there was load shedding during examinations in areas where the centres were located.

The court asked the education secretary, who was present during the proceedings, to send officers to all the examination centres and find out whether more generators were required.

The judges directed the government to make an assessment and file a report by September 23 on the power situation in the state during examinations.

The bench was of the opinion that besides providing generators, the state would have to ensure that there was no load shedding during the examinations.

Government counsel VP Malvankar informed the court that the state was doing its best to ensure that there was no load shedding during examinations. He submitted a written note by the education department which said that there has been a lot of improvement in power situation in the recent times.

However, the bench was not satisfied with the stand taken by the government and asked advocate general Darius Khambata to appear in this matter on behalf of the state as this petition raised a serious issue concerning students.

Last week, the court had pulled up the state for its apathy towards students due to load shedding in schools during examinations.

“Why was there no load shedding during festivals? Why only load shedding at examination centres?” the judges had questioned the state. The petition alleged that the state government had not implemented earlier court orders in 2008 for providing uninterrupted power supply to schools which conduct HSC and SSC examinations.

In July, the high court had asked the state to provide generators, inverters and solar systems on a war-footing to schools as students have to write answer papers during examinations in darkness due to load shedding in the state.

Gawli, arguing in person, informed the judges that till date the government has not taken any steps to ensure that such provisions are made for students, especially during the examinations.

In 2008, Gawli had written a letter to the HC, which was converted into a suo moto PIL, highlighting that lakhs of students were forced to take their examinations in dark due to load shedding.

On February 27, 2009, the high court had directed the government to ensure supply of around 40,000 generators to schools conducting the examinations. In addition, the court had asked the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) to ensure that there is no load shedding at the time of examinations.

The court had also asked the authorities — Maharashtra government, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC), MSEB and education department – to hold a meeting and find solution to difficulties faced by students while writing examinations during load shedding.

Such a meeting was held four days ago in the state secretariat, the court was informed today by the government.

The bench had earlier asked the state education board to submit a list of HSC and SSC examination centres where there is no power supply or load shedding.

MERC on Friday informed the court that they had not got any proposal from the government requesting that there should not be load shedding during examinations.

The court took a serious note of this and asked the state to be extremely responsible as this concerned the career of students.

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