ALAPPUZHA: The collapse of a two-storey school building at Mankombu in Kuttanad, from which 33 students and a teacher had a narrow escape, sheds light to the alleged irregularities involved in construction activities carried out in schools.
The incident is an eye-opener to the contractors and the Parent Teachers Associations (PTA) that carry out construction works in schools.
The Higher Secondary Schools and High Schools in the state are managed by the respective district and block panchayats. Construction works in these schools are carried out by the staff committees and PTAs under the supervision of the people’s representatives of the respective local bodies. In some cases, the works are carried out by the binamies of the people’s representatives. There are allegations by parents that construction works in schools in various parts of the state are being carried out without proper plan and method. It is also aleged that there is large scale corruption involved in the construction of buildings and purchase of goods to the schools.
The building of the Avittom Thirunal Vocational Higher Secondary School, Mankompu, that collapsed on Saturday was built just two years ago. The building collapsed soon after the principal shifted the class 10th students, who were attending special class, from the building.
The special class was arranged to make up for the classes lost due to the holidays declared in the wake of flood in Kuttanad. As many as 12 class rooms were functioning in the building. The office of the principal was also functioning in the building. Principal D Valsala sensed the danger after she found that the tiles fixed on the walls of her office were broken and there was a narrow crack on the wall. Immediately she asked the class teacher to shift the students to another room, said PTA vice-president Radhakrishnan.
The documents and computers inside the office room were destroyed. If the accident had happened on a normal working day, 11 class rooms comprising 220 students may have suffered the danger, said Manikandan, a native.
District Collector N Padmakumar has asked the PWD officials to examine the reason for the accident and submit a report in few days. PWD (buildings division) Executive Engineer Leons Paul said he would visit the accident site on Monday and examine the reason for the collapse.
Meanwhile authorities, including PWD, Education Department and panchayat officials put the blame on the school PTA, saying they constructed the building without proper supervision.
The district panchayat had allotted `32 lakh for the construction and the works were completed in November 2012.