Form district educational infra safety audit panels: Orissa HC to govt

HC directed the state government to pay a compensation of Rs 8 lakh to the family of a Class II student who died due to a wall collapse in his school in 2016.
Orissa High Court
Orissa High Court Photo | Express

CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court on Tuesday directed the state government to pay a compensation of Rs 8 lakh to the family of a Class II student who died due to a wall collapse in his school in 2016.

Kunal Pradhan died after being trapped under a collapsed wall of an old latrine in Project Upper Primary School, Ranikiari of Ganjam district. The state government had promptly granted Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia to the mother of the deceased student. But in 2017, Kunal’s father Sanyasi Pradhan along with his wife filed a petition in the high court seeking direction for payment of Rs 5 lakh compensation for the death of their son.

While disposing of the petition on Tuesday, Justice SK Panigrahi said, “In this case, though the state functionaries have taken prompt steps for payment of ex-gratia grant in favour of the mother of the deceased child, they did not take any precautionary step to avoid such untoward incident. Therefore, a clear case for grant of a decent compensation is made out instead of ex-gratia grant.”

He further said in the present case, the original position cannot be restored. However, the victim’s right to be compensated for losses including physical injury, emotional distress and financial damages can at least be awarded.

Justice Panigrahi also directed the state government to form education infrastructure safety audit committee in each district within three months to ensure safety audit of every school and issue safety certificate to school authorities every year in the month of June.

A comprehensive affidavit is to be filed by the secretary of School and Mass Education department after notifying the aforementioned directives to all the districts of the state. The exercise shall be completed within three months from June 25.

Justice Panigrahi also specified while giving a detailed guideline for the functioning of the committee. “The government has the liberty to improvise the guidelines issued above or issue a detailed guidelines incorporating some more points since the afore-stated guidelines are only indicative for mitigating future mishap,” he said.

According to the order, the committee is to be headed by the collector as the monitoring authority. The committee, which should meet at least twice a year, will form sub-committee of engineers pertaining to the departments of RD and PWD and ensure safety audit of school infrastructure which shall recommend for issuance of safety certificate to the school authorities, the guideline said, adding, “The school headmaster and block education officer will be held responsible for any kind of mishap due to falling of wall or roof.”

“It is the duty of the headmaster of every school to report to the BDO concerned regarding unsafe wall and scrub up any school building and the BDO shall immediately take up the issue before the committee so that the issue can be resolved at the earliest,” the guideline said.

Justice Panigrahi also directed the School and Mass Education department to have ‘a disaster management team to mitigate any kind of disaster in the form of falling of wall, fire or any other kind of calamity faced by the schools.’

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