Ongole: Machines for girls' hygiene at schools face official neglect
Ongole: The State government's effort to provide sanitary napkins to use in emergency and dispose at schools, by using the vending machines and incinerators is rusting due to the negligence.
The machines worth lakhs of rupees sent to thousands of schools are untouched and unused as the officials showed no interest in installing and operating them.
According to one survey, 23 per cent of the girl students in India are give up education in the middle due to the lack of facilities, like running water in toilets and sanitary napkin disposal facilities at schools and colleges.
The government of Andhra Pradesh has announced the Swechha programme under the purview of the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare, to create awareness about menstrual hygiene in adolescent girls and women. As part of the Swachh programme, the government announced to provide sanitary napkins to the girl students of 10,388 schools and colleges in the State free of cost and conduct special awareness classes on the process of menstruation, and the importance of health and hygiene.
Last month, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy launched the Swachha programme and announced that the government will be providing 120 sanitary napkins per year to each of the 10 lakh girl students from Class VII to XII in the State, with a budget of Rs 32 crore. He said that the government had provided incinerators and vending machines in 6,417 schools under the Clean Andhra Pradesh programme, and will revamp the toilets in all of the 56,703 schools under the Nadu- Nedu programme by 2023.
The vending machines provide the sanitary napkins to the girls when they pull the lever and the incinerators burn the disposed of napkins to leave 1gm of ash for throwing in the regular waste.
However, the vending machines and incinerators are not installed in the majority of the schools. The machines are mostly installed where the government officials and public representatives are launching the programme at the district and mandal levels, to make believe everything is perfect.
In most of the schools they are supplied, they are kept in the kitchens and storerooms, to let them corrode from the moisture there.
B Lakshmi Prasanna, the headmistress of the PVR Girls High School in Ongole, said that they received the sanitary napkins for July, August and September in October month, and distributed them to the students as per their quota. She said that the next batch of napkins for October to December, in January as the students utilise the napkins they have in the meantime. She said that though after they made multiple requests, the technicians didn't turn up to install and demonstrate the incinerator and vending machines.
Prakasam district education officer B Vijay Bhaskar said that the agency that took the contract from the State government has supplied the machinery to the schools. The agency is responsible for the installation, demo and maintenance of the machines as per the contract. He said that though they are making repetitive requests to the agency to avoid the rusting of the machines, their response rate is low. He said that he will take the issue to the higher officials for a solution, as a similar situation prevails throughout the State.