While neither the schools nor the officials are concerned, child rights activists have objected to the lax attitude.

Hyderabad schools to begin academic year without mandatory fire safety auditImage for representation
news Safety Thursday, May 09, 2019 - 12:27
Written by  Gautam Bharadwaj

With just a month left for several lakh school students across Hyderabad and the rest of Telangana to return after their summer break, educational institutions seem to be unprepared when it comes to dealing with fire safety.

It was found last year that 90% of schools in the city do not abide by the mandatory fire safety measures and have been operating without ‘No Objection Certificate’ (NOCs) for several years. The Enforcement, Vigilance and Disaster Management (EVDM) wing of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) has undertaken an audit of various establishments to check for lapses in fire safety measures.

Officials said that checking pubs and bars, hospitals and schools was part of the plan.

"We are going about these audits in three phases. The first is pubs, bars and restaurants, second is hospitals and third phase is schools," EVDM Director Viswajit Kampati told TNM.

He says that the third phase which involves checking schools for fire safety measures is estimated to begin in November this year. This implies that schools will reopen to unchecked fire safety standards, potentially risking the lives of students in the eventuality of a fire.

However, the majority of schools do not seem to have a problem with this, as was shown when the Telangana Recognised School Management Association (TRSMA) called for a bandh of all private schools in the state last year. The private school managements asked the state to stop demanding fire, traffic and other NOCs (no objection certificates). The schools had stated that it was impossible for them to follow these rules.

Even as many schools will function from June unchecked when it comes to precautions or measures if disaster strikes, officials say that there is nothing to worry about.  

"Schools are regularly inspected and if there is any discrepancy, the management is asked to rectify their issues and if they fail to comply, the schools will be seized," claims Sreenivasa Chary, Joint Director (services) of the Telangana Department of School Education.

Activists are not very pleased about this. 

"They should ensure that all formalities related to safety are completed by the time schools open. It is not correct to do this work when the children are there," says Achyuta Rao, a child rights activist.

It is unclear as to why schools have been given a lower priority in the audit schedule. Last year, two prominent schools in the city had fire accidents and although there were no casualties, these incidents highlighted the lack of preparedness and precautions in schools.

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