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Mumbai schools to be ready for disaster

The parents-teacher forum in Mumbai is welcoming the GR on tackling disasters, and is insisting on regular follow-ups with schools, reports Neha Bhayana.

india Updated: Oct 17, 2006 01:07 IST

First 26/7, then 11/7 - the state government doesn’t want to take any chances in case disaster, natural or man-made, strikes again, especially with school children.

The education department has issued a Government Resolution (GR) with guidelines to ensure that schools in the State are prepared to tackle a disaster. 

Following the July 11 serial blasts, the education department decided it was time to put systems in place at every school to avoid panic.

"Back in 1971 when the war was on, I was in school and remember that we were trained so that we knew what to do if an emergency arose, whether to duck under the benches or run down the stairs. It is important that schools should be ready for any situation," said state Education Secretary Anand Kulkarni. 

As per the GR dated October 8, school managements have been asked to closely follow weather bulletins, mentally prepare students, disallow them from leaving school premises in case of floods and shift them to a safer place – not the terrace - if required. 
      
Over the last month, officials from the education department held three meetings with the BMC officials, fire brigade officials, some school principals and Dr Rita Savla from BMC's Disaster Management Cell to work out the strategies.

"We also studied the measures implemented by certain schools like Holy Family School, Andheri, to arrive at workable plans," revealed Basanti Roy, Education inspector (North zone). 
     
While the GR contains only broad guidelines, a booklet with comprehensive instructions on how schools can deal with all kinds of disasters – communal riots, blasts, floods - will be circulated to all schools in the state soon.

"The GR has only guidelines, the booklet will actually sensitise and train schools, parents and children regarding disasters and measures to handle them," said Smita Kakan, Deputy Director of Education (Mumbai region). 
    
The fire management plan evolved after a fire killed 92 students in a school at Kumbhakonam in Tamil Nadu in 2004 will also be considered while formulating the booklet, said officials.

The booklet will cover steps to be undertaken pre, post and during disaster and include everything from how schools should display school maps prominently to aid fire fighters to what order classes can be evacuated in. 

The Parents-teachers' United Forum welcomed the GR but said that the government must “follow-up” with schools. "School safety is very important. So many schools in the city are running in old buildings or in crowded localities. These schools also have to be kept in mind. The GR is a good initiative provided there is implementation," said PTA President Arundhati Chavan. 
   
The education secretary said the government will also hold special training programmes in schools soon.

neha.bhayana@hindustantimes.com