The Maharashtra state board’s Mumbai division office, the famous pink-and-white-coloured building in Vashi, is in dire need of repairs revealed a recent structural audit. The building is barely 20 years old. The structural audit revealed that cracks have developed on some of the pillars, weakening the building’s foundation, said board officials.
Its mammoth basement, which is used for storing lakhs of question papers and answer sheets, has been declared unsafe. Teachers complained that despite the structural auditor’s warning, the basement is yet to be cordoned off. While the divisional board has appealed to the state board, Pune, to begin the repair work at the earliest, teachers are concerned over the safety of visitors and employees.
“At times, moderators sit in the basement to complete work, thus putting their lives at risk. The board needs to make other arrangements and repair the building at the earliest,” said Uday Nare, a former board member, who teaches at Hansraj Morarji Public School and Junior College, Andheri.
Commenting on the issue, Siddheshwar Chandekar, secretary of the divisional board, said they cannot shut the basement until the exams and assessments conclude.
“There is no other room big enough to store lakhs of papers in the building. It [basement] is packed to the brim for at least five to six months every year,” he added.
The room is occupied even after results are declared, as photocopies of answer sheets are stored here for students who request to see them under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Though the state board officials said they are considering the divisional board’s appeal for repairs, it is unable to find a suitable time. After the SSC exams end in April, work will begin for supplementary exams to be held in July, and the results will be declared in August.
“This means we will be busy till September at least, leaving a gap of only two to three months between October and December — the only time we can complete the repairs. We are trying to find the best possible solution,” said Chandekar.