Roof collapse: Baddowal school building ‘unfit for use’: PWD report
PWD in their report found that the death of a teacher at Government Senior Secondary School, Baddowal, was due to the building’s unsuitability for use, which was not sealed despite its condition. The incident occurred on August 23 when a 45-year-old teacher, Ravinder Kaur lost her life as the school’s roof collapsed and three others were injured. However, a magisterial inquiry into the matter is still on.
The public works department (PWD) in their report found that the death of a teacher at Government Senior Secondary School, Baddowal, was due to the building’s unsuitability for use, which was not sealed despite its condition. The incident occurred on August 23 when a 45-year-old teacher, Ravinder Kaur lost her life as the school’s roof collapsed and three others were injured. However, a magisterial inquiry into the matter is still on.
The investigation into this incident has exposed negligence on the part of the authorities responsible for ensuring the safety of the school premises. The PWD report has exposed a glaring omission. While it acknowledges the inspection of a new building constructed in 2021, it forgot to mention any examination of the old building.
The report now recommends annual safety surveys of government school buildings, emphasising regular inspections by the school head and the district education officer to address deficiencies, including cracks, in a timely manner.
The report stresses the importance of conducting non-destructive testing (NDT) of the old building. The NDT experts emphasise that such testing is essential to ensure the safety of components and materials, verifying their suitability for use and detecting any damage or defects that might compromise safety.
The panchayat of Baddowal has called for the opening of the school in a newly constructed block. Sarpanch Jaspreet Singh has made a case, citing the presence of two blocks constructed just three to four years ago that could serve as the foundation for a new school. One of the new blocks consists of six classrooms, one library, one science lab, and a staff room, while the other block consists of four classrooms, a sports room, a principal office, and a reception.
However, addressing the safety concerns highlighted by the inquiry, the executive engineer has stated that a demand of ₹1.70 lakh and GST has been made by the Dean Testing and Consultancy Cell of Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College to conduct NDT testing of the building.
The investigative team visited the site, recorded statements of the injured and teachers, and sought relevant documents from Chandigarh headquarters.
The education minister had instructed engineers to investigate the quality of the building. This led to a comprehensive inspection by both GNE College and the PWD, focusing on the building’s structural integrity and safety.
Sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Dr Harjinder Singh said that the PWD sent a report to him, which he forwarded to deputy commissioner Surabhi Malik. He added that a magistrate inquiry into the matter is on. He will submit his report to the DC after completing the inquiry.