CHENNAI : The State government’s move to accord amnesty to educational institution buildings, including schools, constructed prior to January 1, 2011, in non-plan areas of Directorate of Town and Country Planning (DTCP) in Tamil Nadu, violates the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Guidelines on School Safety Policy, 2016, which is statutory in nature and framed after Supreme Court verdict last year, experts say.
A Narayanan, trustee and director of Change India, a Centre for Advocacy and Research, told Express that the Government Order according approval for buildings of educational institutions functioning prior to January 1, 2011 in non-plan areas was totally against NDMA guidelines of 2016 which were drafted to comply with a Supreme Court order of August 14 last year.
Interestingly, it was based on his petition, the Madras High court asked the Director of school education to constitute a committee in each district to inspect all schools and ensure they conform to requisite building regulations and safety norms. Narayanan says that regularisation of school buildings built prior to 2011 without ensuring that the structures abide by the National Building Code, violates NDMA guidelines and tantamount to contempt of court. However, a Directorate of Town and Country Planning official says that no fresh permission is being accorded to schools.
“This is only for those schools that have been functioning prior to 2011. They have been functioning for ages and they abide by the fire safety norms. Concurrence is being given only after ensuring the structural stability is ascertained and the schools abide by the fire and other safety norms,” the official said. The move by the government comes as schools operating prior to 2011 have been suffering a lot with many wanting to migrate from matriculation to Central Board of Secondary Education schools so that State students could compete in NEET examinations, sources said adding that many want to renovate their buildings.
Association of Professional Town Planners (APTP) K M Sadanandh told Express that after the Kumbakonam school fire tragedy, the Supreme Court passed orders in 2009 and 2017 after going through the writ petition filed by Avinash Mehrotra in 2004. Prior to the order passed in 2017 by Supreme Court, NDMA had submitted guidelines on School Safety Policy before the court and it was later made mandatory for the States to comply. A circular was issued to all States and Union Territories on September 1, 2017.