Ease of fire safety norms for private schools in Telangana draws flak

Corporation officials along with the schools association decided that private schools established before 2009 would be exempted from getting clearances like NOCs from the fire and traffic departments.

Published: 16th June 2019 09:58 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th June 2019 11:20 AM   |  A+A-

Fire safety equipment

Fire safety equipment. (File Photo | R Satish Babu, EPS)

By Express News Service

HYDERABAD: The education department’s recent decision to ease norms for Extension of Temporary Registration (ETR) for private schools has drawn flak from various quarters.

This especially after the various accidents that recently took place in schools, like the one where a 14-year-old girl died after she fell off the fourth floor of her school in LB Nagar.

Soon after, the education department even pointed out multiple safety lapses on the school’s part. 

For the grant or renewal of ETR, a private school has to obtain clearance from various departments like fire, GHMC and traffic police, apart from abiding by the National Building Code, 2005. 

In a recently held meeting of the chief secretary, of education, GHMC and Fire department officials along with the private schools association, it was decided that private schools established before 2009 would be exempted from getting clearances like NOCs from the fire and traffic departments.

“Since 90 per cent of the schools were already existing when the National Building Code came into force, they cannot make infrastructural changes to their buildings, mostly due to space constraints,” said S Srinivas Reddy, State president, Telangana Recognised Schools Management Association (TRSMA).

Explaining the consequences of this situation, he said, “Schools that were started in slums or densely-populated areas cannot be asked to have as much space between the building and the compound wall that a fire engine can enter the premises. Traffic norms which mandate 30 per cent of the building space to be earmarked for parking, is also not feasible for smaller schools.” 

It is estimated that nearly 7,000 private schools across the State, including 2,000 in the city, stand to benefit from the relaxation.

A GO announcing the amendment is likely to be issued by next week. 

S Madhusudhan Reddy, vice president, National Independent School Alliance (NISA), said that NOCs should be obtained from schools only at the time of their establishment. 

“For issuance of ETR, authorities should only ascertain that all safety measures are in place. Even the 2009 Supreme Court judgement states that schools established before 2009 only need to have fire safety equipments in place,” he said.

Since traffic NOC also requires a fire NOC, its requirement has also been scrapped, just as building permission and occupancy certificates. 

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