Are Delhi schools complying with fire safety, asks PIL in HC

Of the thousands of schools, both private and government run, in the national capital, how many are actually complying with fire safety and building stability norms is the question raised by a PIL in the Delhi High Court.

Are Delhi schools complying with fire safety, asks PIL in HC

New Delhi: Of the thousands of schools, both private and government run, in the national capital, how many are actually complying with fire safety and building stability norms is the question raised by a PIL in the Delhi High Court.

The petitioner, a lawyer, has alleged that the Delhi government and its various authorities do not have an answer to this query, and that is why he was forced to approach the court.

The public interest litigation (PIL) claims that the Supreme Court had in 2009 issued directions to all the schools in India to have fire safety certificate and stability certificates, but these were not being complied with it.

The petitioner, Kush Kalra, has alleged that the Delhi government's education directorate, the fire services and public works department are being negligent in performing their duty to take steps to ensure that the schools are complying with building stability and fire safety norms.

The Delhi-based lawyer has claimed that authorities, including the municipal corporations, were clueless as to whether any school under their jurisdiction is actually complying with the norms.

The PIL, filed through counsel Rajesh Gogna, said the petitioner came to know about the lack of data with the authorities on this issue after he raised a query under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Kalra, in his plea, has sought directions to the local authorities to ensure compliance of the apex court's order as well as the National Building Code of India, claiming that the "safety of school-going students in Delhi is at risk".

"School-going children are easy target of any mishap and it must be the duty of the respondents (authorities) to check and identify which schools in Delhi have no fire safety and building stability certificate and the respondents must derecognize those institutions till the time the safety norms are implemented," the petition, which is expected to come up for hearing next week, said.

The PIL also claimed that around 500 schools responded to the RTI query of the petitioner and "confirmed that they are not complying with the fire safety and building stability measures".

It has also sought directions to the authorities to depute their officers to make periodic visits to the schools to check whether the fire safety and building stability measures are being implemented and to apprise the court about the same. 

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