JAGATSINGHPUR: Classes may have reopened after almost 10 months of Covid-induced shutdown but a large number of school buildings continue to be as unsafe for students across the district as they were. Nearly 200 students study at Abdul Rahim High School of Biritol panchyat under Tirtol block but the classrooms are in poor condition as the building is in dilapidated state. Built with financial assistance from Paradip Port Trust (PPT), the school was used as a cyclone shelter. However, the building now stands damaged due to poor maintenance in the last decade. It was declared unsafe way back in 2012.
Panchayat samiti member of Biritol Bijayini Mallick says the School and Mass Education department proposed to demolish the building as per advice of a technical consultant of Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA). Yet, no measure has been taken.Block Education Officer of Tirtol Susama Mallick admitted to have received complaints from villagers about unsafe nature of the school building. The department proposed that a resolution of school management committee be submitted so that steps for demolition could be taken, she said.
As per the direction of Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC), the State government had directed all collectors in 2014 to demolish unused and unsafe building and take up repair works of all old structures to ensure no child in primary schools is under the threat of unsafe building.Thereafter, the district administration constituted block level teams which conducted survey of unsafe school buildings. After the assessment, 261 schools buildings including 109 primary schools were identified as unsafe. Not a single unsafe school building yet has been demolished leaving both guardians and children in the lurch.
A senior officer of School and Mass Education department, on conditions of anonymity, said the administration had formed a district level technical committee under the chairmanship of Collector for identification of unsafe school buildings and to expedite demolition of such structures. The panel members comprised executive engineers of works, rural development, rural water supply and sanitation, DRDA and district project coordinator SSA. However, the then two executive engineers of Works and Rural Development departments did not sign on approval of the technical committee as a result of which demolition work has been stalled since six years.
District project coordinator, SSA Sapan Kumar Jena admitted that 261 school buildings had been identified as unsafe in the district but refused to comment on the reason behind delay in demolition.