The safety of around 250 students studying in the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV) School at Rakoli village in SAS Nagar has been put at risk as the school has been ‘illegally’ constructed on the riverbed of seasonal rivulet Siswan. The school was set up in 2009 by the Mohali administration without taking the pre-requisite no objection certificate (NOC) from the district drainage department.
NOC a must, says drainage dept
Sources in the drainage department said it was mandatory for the administration to get the NOC from them before constructing the building. The NOC is issued after members of the department conduct inspection of a building to make sure it has been constructed with proper safety precautions. Dalip Singh, who is the executive engineer at the Roopnagar drainage division, confirmed that the administration had not been issued an NOC for the construction of JNV School. According to officials in the drainage department, the administration did not bother to seek a NOC from them despite repeated reminders.
Dept had warned district admn
The drainage department had warned the Mohali administration that safety norms were being overlooked while the school’s building was being constructed.
In a letter written in 2010, the drainage department informed the administration that they were putting the safety of students at risk as the school was being constructed on the Siswan riverbed.
The letter informed the administration that the Section 55 of the Drainage Act enabled the drainage department to prohibit the construction of the school as it posed a threat to safety of others and that the administration could be held liable under Sections 431 (mischief by injury to public road, bridge, river or channel) and 432 (mischief by causing inundation or obstruction to public drainage attended with damage) of the Indian Penal Code.
The drainage department had conducted an inspection of the school in 2011 and again in 2012, after which it informed the chief engineer that the school was constructed in the riverbed which might overflow if rivulets ‘Patiala Ki Rao’ and ‘Jayanti Devi Ki Rao’ underwent flooding during heavy rains.
When Hindustan Times visited the area, it found that the path leading to the school from the Rakoli village had been made after damaging the bank of the rivulet. Deputy Commissioner (DC) of SAS Nagar, Tajinder Pal Singh Sidhu,however, said that he was not aware of the issue.
In its response to the drainage department, the administration claimed that construction of the Siswan dam had reduced the risk posed by the rivulet, making it safe to construct the school on its riverbed. According to the documents submitted by the administration, the discharge of water from the rivulet reduced from 20,000 kiosk to 8000-10,000 thousand kiosk after the construction of the dam.
It has also mentioned that the rivulet was 800 feet wide but after the construction of the dam it reduced to 400 feet. However, a drainage dept official said that the administration’s plea did not have any substantial value.