CHENNAI: Just a week after the State government’s decision to shut down 746 unrecognised private matriculation schools, CBSE schools in the city are facing the heat for functioning in buildings with higher floors, in violation of the State education department’s rules.
Within the last few weeks, four of the private CBSE board schools, located in and around Ambattur, have volunteered not to use the higher floors and seal their passage by building obstruction walls in order to comply with the education department’s norms.
The State government’s rules, framed based on the Justice Sampath Committee recommendation after the 2004 Kumbakonam school fire accident, specify that schools within the city’s limit cannot function in building that are taller than three storeys (ground plus two storeys). Yet, many CBSE schools function out of buildings that have higher floors.
While most of these schools are out of sync with the school department’s norms, they already have the approval of the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA). That the CMDA’s norms were in conflict with the education department’s rules came to light only recently. For, the CMDA only specifies that school buildings must not be taller than 15 metres. It is silent on the floor count.
When the schools applied for recognition of the State government, the approvals were put on the pending list since the buildings failed to confirm to the storey norm.
Several of these CBSE board schools were found to have constructed buildings with more than three storeys or in some cases also had elevated parking areas. But they have the CMDA’s approval as they was not in conflict with its norms.
The decision to enforce the State government’s norms was taken during a high-level meeting last month between the education department and CMDA officials. It was decided that CMDA too will now enforce the three-storey norm, irrespective of the schools already obtaining its approval.
Following this, notices were sent to CBSE schools that had more than three storeys. The schools were directed to seal the higher floors by either constructing obstruction walls on the staircases or disconnecting the elevators to these floors.
It is learnt that a team of senior planners inspected the schools to verify if the schools had sealed the higher floors.
A senior official from the school education department said that so far, four schools have volunteered to close down the higher floors and continuous inspection would be done to ensure strict compliance.
It a Pain, say Pvt Schools
While government officials are enforcing the building rule, private school officials said the move will complicate the functioning of the schools.
“We have completed admissions considering classrooms, labs in these floors and now we have to make alternative arrangements for the students, which would complicate things further,” said a principal of a city-based CBSE school, who is also a member of the Sahodaya Schools Complex, a Central-government recognised school forum.