It seems Delhi schools have not learnt any lessons from the Kumbakonam (Tamil Nadu) school fire tragedy of 2004, which claimed the lives of 93 children. The Delhi Fire Service’s refusal to grant fire safety certificates to 1,200 schools means the Supreme Court’s directions in this regard are not being followed properly.
Taking a serious note of the tragedy, the Supreme Court (SC) had, two years ago — on April 14, 2009 — issued a series of guidelines ordering the installation of fire-extinguishing equipment and implementation of building safety measures in all government and private schools across India to check a repeat of such mishaps.
Ordering implementation of fire safety measures, it had clearly stated that dereliction of duty on the part of officials would attract immediate disciplinary action.
The court had ordered all government and private schools to strictly comply with safety measures prescribed by the National Building Code (NBC) of India in 2005.
It had further asked authorities not to provide recognition to schools not complying with safety measures.
“Before granting recognition or affiliation, the concerned state governments and union territories are directed to ensure that the buildings are constructed according to safety norms incorporated in the National Building Code of India,” it had said.
The SC had ordered “periodic evaluation of structural aspect of the school” and asked “...engineers and officials to strictly follow the NBC...”