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Atul Patankar

As reported at sify.com on 15 December 2010

 

New Delhi, Dec 15 (IANS) As many as 1,200 schools in the national capital, including some top privately run institutions, are flouting fire safety norms, a right to information (RTI) query has revealed.

 

While many government schools do not have basic fire-fighting equipment, many private schools have not bothered to get their facilities certified from the fire department.

 

Delhi Fire Service (DFS), in reply to an RTI application filed by activist Manish Bhatnagar, said as many as 1,200 schools in Delhi are functioning without a no objection certificate (NOC) from it.

 

These schools include well known ones like Delhi Public School, Vasant Kunj; Amity International School, Malviya Nagar; and Springdales School, Dhaula Kuan, the RTI reply said.

 

Government institutions like Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya, Mandawali; Government Boys Senior Secondary School, Sultanpuri; and Sarovadaya Kanya Vidyalaya, Madanpur Khadar are yet to get fire safety clearance certificates, the DFS said.

 

Deputy Chief Fire Officer A.K. Sharma told IANS: 'Schools are bound to follow the fire safety norms prescribed by the directorate of education (DoE). If DoE tells us to verify if any school is flouting these rules, then only can we start a scrutiny.'

 

'We grant an NOC to a school only if it follows fire safety norms. If that's not the case, we don't give it an NOC,' he said.

 

He said most schools seemed more interested in admitting a large number of children instead of providing them a safe environment.

 

According to fire brigade sources, many schools in the capital start operation with a 'temporary' NOC on the understanding that they will install the necessary equipment within one year.

 

'Shockingly, many educational institutes never come back to the fire department for getting a permanent NOC,' said a DFS official, pleading anonymity.

 

Delhi Education Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely refused to comment on the issue.

 

When IANS contacted some of the schools identified by the DFS as alleged violators of fire safety rules, many refused to comment.

 

The chairperson of a popular public school in Vasant Kunj, on condition of anonymity, said: 'We have been running the school for years and we have no problem; then where is the question of NOC for fire?'

 

According to DFS sources, many school buildings lack basic facilities like ventilation, fire extinguishers and proper exit points to be used during an emergency.

 

According to the Supreme Court, buildings for schools should be constructed only by a government certified engineer or by the government works department.

 

The apex court's order followed a 2004 blaze that killed 93 children in a school in the Kumbakonam area of Tamil Nadu's Thanjavur district.

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