GUWAHATI, July 9 � Printing and distribution of free textbooks have been included in the Emergency Services Maintenance Act, a step taken by the State Government to ensure timely distribution of the textbooks for students of Government schools.
State Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told media persons that anybody � be it the printers or the Assam State Textbook Production and Publication Corporation or the Government � could be sued under the provisions of the Act, if found facilitating delay in the distribution process by any means.
�From now onwards, every student would get textbooks on the first day of the session as it is done in the private schools,� Sarma said.
Conceding that there have been large-scale irregularities in printing and distribution of free textbooks, the Minister said the activities of various channels through which the distribution process takes place would be kept under constant monitoring.
�Last year over 3.5 crores textbooks were printed, more than the number of students studying in the government schools but there was a sizeable number of students who did not get free textbooks. Either there were lacunae in the distribution system or the textbooks were used as waste papers,� the Minister observed, adding that this year an additional 10 per cent order has been placed.
�Unlike previous years, we are placing the printing orders two months ahead and by October 30, the delivery of the orders should be ensured. Failing to do so, the Government would sue the printers and would resort to alternative means,� the Minister said, on the sideline of the function organized to hand over the orders to the printers.
The Minister also assured the printers that the printing papers would reach them on or before August 15.
�For any other grievances, the printers can meet me everyday from 3 pm to 4 pm at the Textbook Corporation office,� he said.
He went on to state that compared to 2009 where the total enrollment in the government schools was 76 lakhs, the figure in the year 2010 stood at 64 lakh, witnessing a slump in the total enrollment.
�The State schools on an average have witnessed 20 per cent less enrollment,� the Minister divulged.
The Government has also plans to involve a students� body to monitor textbook distribution in the sub-divisional level.