Thursday's tragic mishap could have been avoided had the state government's grand plans under project Roopantar taken off in time.
But the education department, it seems, is suffering at the hands of its lax work agencies.
Under Roopantar, Government Boys / Girls Senior Secondary School, Khajuri Khas, is entitled to another staircase in the new wing and an additional door for each classroom, among several other planned improvements.
Ironically, these facilities —which could have gone a long way in preventing a stampede — would have been in place already had the work started on time, almost a year ago.
The stampede on Thursday, which killed five girls, had taken place in the only staircase of the school building that is about 4.5 feet wide.
But the Delhi State Industrial Development Centre. (DSIDC) — education department's work agency for this school — awarded the construction tender worth Rs 1.19 crore to a private company in July this year.
Even two months after that the project hasn’t taken off. The completion date, as per the tender, is July 2010.
Roopantar was launched by the state in August last year with the aim of upgrading the infrastructure in their schools.
The government had expected the work to begin in as many as 100 schools by March this year. But construction work started only in 25 schools in March.
“The plans for the school are ambitious. It includes 16 new classrooms and a new toilet block in the old wing and two staff toilets, one additional door in each classroom, a new staircase, rain water harvesting project and fire safety equipment in the new wing, where the stampede happened on Thursday,” said a source in the education department.
“The funds were handed over to the work agency long ago, but nothing constructive has been done,” said the source. “The proposal of a new staircase and additional doors is proof that the department had envisaged such a problem.”
“The project was delayed because of the model code of conduct during elections. Work in the Khajuri Khas School was supposed to begin a week ago but couldn’t because of the rain,” said Education Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely.