Book schools for student deaths

It is a shame that two kids lost their lives in Delhi schools within a week because of criminal negligence on the part of the authorities. While five-year-old boy Ankit died on January 27 after falling into an open septic tank in a school run by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Devansh, a Class 1 student in the upscale Ryan International, was found dead on January 30 in the school water tank which was uncovered and unguarded. After a public outrage, the police have finally arrested Principal of the MCD school in southwest Delhi but no action has yet been taken against the authorities of the private school. In the mean time, the Delhi High Court, hearing a public interest litigation, has sought status reports from the Delhi government, the MCD and Ryan International School. If the Delhi parents thought sending their loved ones to the private schools than those run by the government or MCD would be safer, they have been proved wrong by the tragic incident in Ryan International located in upmarket Vasant Kunj.

In a typical reactive mode, the Delhi government has now asked all the schools to conduct safety audits on their premises. On the other hand, the manage-ments of the ‘branded’ schools are now waking up to the safety pitfalls in their backyards while the police response would depend on duration of the media coverage. As soon as the media glare moves away from these incidents, there are real chances of botched up investigations which will fix the blame on generic issues or at best on some lowly functionaries. There are rare chances that top officials, including the manager or principal could be held account-able and prosecuted in a professional manner to get those guilty convicted in courts of law. Unless the guilty in this kind of criminal negligence cases are booked and brought to justice, no lessons would be learnt and things would be back to “chalta hai”.

After all, for Municipal Corporation staff, their preference is to fight for their salaries while the private schools have other issues like fixing their admissions in a manner nobody including the government, can question.  For the AAP government, its face off with the BJP and the Central government will leave them with little time for resolving citizens’ problems which become severe in big cities. At times, one wonders if we are getting our priorities right? We are all talking about smart cities, but what about safe cities where the citizens are rest assured about the safety of their kids and themselves?
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