Sanitary pad incinerators in Chennai schools kaput

Equipment missing in corporation schools  at Velachery, Choolaimedu and Alwarpet 
The incinerators were either out of order or damaged | Express
The incinerators were either out of order or damaged | Express

CHENNAI: While the city corporation ensures that it is giving out free sanitary napkins regularly to students in corporation schools, the incinerators that were installed to dispose of used napkins are in a state of neglect.

At many schools that TNIE visited over the last several weeks, most of them were out of order and some were even missing.

In 2018, the state government allocated around `14 crore to install incinerators in government and corporation schools across the state, including Chennai. At the corporation higher secondary school in Maduvankarai, where teachers said the strength of female students was higher, the incinerators were plugged in, but were not working. However, the napkin dispensers were functional and used pads were being disposed of in the dustbins.

At the Taramani Higher Secondary School, the incinerators were plugged in but had long since stopped working. In addition, during the time of our visit, only one of the toilets for girls had a functional latch. When asked, students said they did not know what the machine was meant for.

TNIE found that there were no incinerators at Velachery, Choolaimedu and Alwarpet higher secondary schools. Even in the higher secondary school at Nungambakkam, considered a model school in several aspects, incinerators were not plugged in and there was no socket nearby.

In many of the schools, the girls were not told how to properly wrap the used napkins before disposing of them. The napkins were found dumped in open dustbins.  Going north, at the higher secondary school in Thiruvottiyur High Road, the sanitary staff that TNIE spoke to said the students had ‘broken’ the incinerator, rendering it useless. Another one in Old Washermanpet was also out of order.

The incinerators are installed but once that is done, nobody comes for regular maintenance. They are also sometimes installed through CSR initiatives channelled to the corporation, so we cannot insist on it,” a corporation school headmaster said.

“The HMs are empowered to undertake repair works and funds are earmarked for it. We have decentralised the system, so it doesn’t have to come to the department every time. We will look into the issue and give directions if necessary,” a senior corporation official said.

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