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Focus on disaster management at schools

india Updated: Jul 29, 2013 02:59 IST
Neelam Pandey
Neelam Pandey
Hindustan Times
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To test the disaster-preparedness at various schools under its jurisdiction, the New Delhi district administration has decided to carry out a risk assessment exercise.

The exercise, according to officials, will include assessment of structural safety of the buildings and review of the disaster management plans prepared by schools.

"The plan is almost complete and we are hoping to start the exercise by next month. All schools, private and government, will be covered under the exercise. Safety of school children is our prime concern," said Ameya Abhyankar, district magistrate of New Delhi. Schools in areas such as Barakhamba Road, Gole Market, Vasant Vihar and Chanakyapuri will be part of the exercise.

The Delhi government has also decided to form a school safety committee in every school which will have members from the local body, fire and health department and Delhi police.

As part of the exercise, schools will be asked to mark out safe zones and vulnerable spots in their premises to avoid any mishap.

According to officials, the schools that had still not prepared and submitted their disaster management plans detailing the emergency evacuation system in place would be given one more chance to draft and submit the same, failing which they might be subjected to punitive action.

"There are four components to the entire exercise, which include risk assessment of the buildings and also finding out whether retrofitting is required. Also profiling of students has to be carried out and a database will be prepared so that in case of a disaster we can inform their parents. The exercise will check whether the schools are equipped to handle any kind of disaster and whether they can survive earthquake, fire, torrential rains etc. We will check whether the staff is trained. Also, if the schools have dedicated staff for communication in cases of emergency for parents and authoritiesto get in touch with will be scrutinized," said a senior Delhi government official.

"We have also decided to carry out mock drills wherein different scenarios will be given to the schools and their responses checked," added the official.

Officials said the school management will be asked to provide at least one resident doctor for immediate assistance in case of any medical emergency.

To begin with, meetings will be held with the principals and teachers of the school with the Delhi government officials informing them about the exercise, which will be spread across 12 months.