Govt mulls safety audit of school buildings

Heavy rains, floods seem to have taught a valid lesson for the Education department in the state. Clueless about the physical condition of school buildings, the department has launched an audit of buildings and the possible catastrophes in the region.

The department, however, has to begin its work from the grassroots levels as there is no data available on the building plans. According to sources in the department, there is no basic information like the age of the buildings, the structural design or details of the agencies that have constructed these buildings.

The department will also compile a list of these schools and also make note of the possible natural disasters that could take place in this area. Based on this data, it hopes to improvise the infrastructure.

Further, it has also chalked out plans to use these buildings as refuge shelter during a distress situation for the local population.

The guidelines on disaster management also state that on the buildings that are not maintained and are vulnerable to calamities, 4% of the total expenditure of the school's infrastructure and equipment should be spent on civil works and maintenance.

Meanwhile, chief minister H D Kumaraswamy has sanctioned a 'special package' in the budget for the betterment of infrastructure in government schools. A budgetary allocation of Rs 150 crore has been made for repairs of government primary, high school and PU college buildings.

The department is also contemplating having a specific scheme to get schools prepared to manage disasters. Accordingly, an action plan would be prepared that would be renewed periodically based on the needs. Individual schools also ought to have school emergency operation plan to be able to respond to any disasters, at the earliest.

The decision to audit school buildings came in the wake of the Supreme Court's direction to the states to implement draft guidelines laid down by the National Disaster Management Authority on disaster management in schools. The apex court had passed order in the case pertaining to Kumbakonam school fire tragedy, in which 90 children had died.

Meanwhile, director of primary education, B K Basvaraja, director, primary education said that schools have been asked to constitute disaster management committees and submit details to the department on these. "A video conference would be done with schools for this," he added.

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Govt mulls safety audit of school buildings

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