Suspecting shoddy construction resulting in disproportionate damage to school buildings compared to other structures after earthquake hit the Doda region on May 1, the government has decided to engage an independent third party for ascertaining the reason behind this.
As per the assessment report, school buildings in the earthquake-affected areas of Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban were largely and unequally damaged as compared to other structures.
Last week during the appraisal of rehabilitation measures in the earthquake-affected areas of Doda, chief minister Omar Abdullah had directed planning minister Ajay Sadhotra to engage independent third party for ascertaining the reason behind this.
In the Doda area alone, around 600 school buildings were damaged after the earthquake. Out of 600, around 200 were totally damaged, 250 got cracks and another 150 were partially damaged. However, the damage was lot less to the other structures in the quake-affected areas.
When asked whether the use of sub-standard construction material was the reason for such extensive damage to the school buildings in the Doda area, Doda deputy commissioner Mubarak Singh said, "It is premature to arrive at any conclusion at this moment. The damages to school buildings were caused due to earthquake and other reasons which we will find out."
"In order find out the reasons for the damages, government has engaged an interdependent third party to ascertain the causes", he said.
In Kishtwar area around 170 schools were damaged following the earthquake.
On the engagement of independent third party to assess the damages to schools, planning minister Ajay Sadhotra said, "To investigate the unequal damage to school buildings viz-a-vis other structures in the quake-hit area; an independent third party will be engaged to ascertain the causes behind this".
"The inquiry will soon start. Right now our primary focus is to expedite the rehabilitation work in the affected area. In fact, both things will work side by side. This third party, as it comes under my ministry would be engaged as soon as I reach Srinagar", he said.
As per sources government will shortly be engaging NABCONS, a subsidiary of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) as third party to ascertain the causes.
One person was killed and about 90 received injuries in the earthquake of 5.8-magnitude on the Richter scale which struck districts of Doda, Ramban and Kishtwar and adjacent areas on May 1.