Arrested trainer Arumugam (Photo | Twitter@JuniorVikatan)
COIMBATORE: A day after a college girl died in freak mishap during a mock drill, disaster management department officials claimed they could do little to crackdown on institutions conducting such programmes. While rules mandate that institutions obtain permission from the disaster management, district fire and police departments before conducting such mock drills, not a single college or school has approached officials in the past two years.
Investigation has also revealed that the trainer roped in by the institution was an imposter without any proven credentials. Arumugam, the trainer, was arrested on Thursday under section 304 (ii) (Culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal code (IPC). At the time of arrest, he claimed that he was an authorized trainer. Logeswari (19) died when the trainer pushed her from the second floor of the Kovai Kalaimagal College of Arts and Science building. An official of the disaster management department told Express that once an institution approaches them with a proposal, they intimate District Fire Office (DFO) through the collector for a suitable date. DFO consent is must. However, the rules are seldom followed.
‘Government should form panel to draft guidelines on qualifications of trainers’
An official of the disaster management department told Express that in the past two years, only one private institution had approached them with a proposal to conduct a mock drill. “They wanted to hold an event on June 23 and sought our permission on June 22. However, when we processed their request and assigned a date, they did not revert,” the disaster management department official said, adding that even if institutions fail to toe the line, they can do little as they have no say in imposing fines or initiating criminal proceedings against them.
Even as institutions give disaster management department a wide berth, lack of guidelines on conducting such mock exercises makes matters worse, says Bharathiar University Registrar (In-charge) B Vanitha.
“We have sought a report from the college, based on which we will constitute the syndicate and decide on the course ahead,” she said.
When three students of a private engineering college were electrocuted on campus in August 2011 in Coimbatore, the State government formed a panel under E Balagurusamy’s leadership.The panel had come out with safety guidelines on engineering college premises in the State. The man behind the guidelines, Balagurusamy, advocated such guidelines for all colleges in the State.
“The death of the girl during the mock drill was due to the trainer’s mistake. The State Government should form a committee to come out with guidelines and clarify who can be recruited as a trainer,” Balagurusamy said.
When contacted, Higher Education Secretary Sunil Paliwal said the department would prepare an exhaustive list of guidelines on safety and send it to colleges soon.
‘Not authorised to conduct drills’
NDMA officially announced that Arumugam was not authorised by it to conduct such drills. “NDMA does not approve of drills, without adequate preparation,” the statement read. While Arumugam made tall claims of getting a stipend of Rs 15,000 per month from the Centre, barring a diploma, he could offer the investigators nothing to establish his credentials.