SC asks HRD Min to frame a disaster management mechanism by Monday

| | New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Friday frowned upon the Centre for not learning lessons from the tragic fire that snubbed 94 lives of children 13 years ago at a school in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu after it found that till date no guidelines were in place in order to avert such future tragedies at schools.

Directing the Government to be proactive on such issues, the Bench of Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud asked the Union HRD Ministry to frame a disaster management mechanism by Monday and propose the mode by which it could be enforced in States by fixing responsibility on officers who fail to implement the same.

“We want States to be alive to the guidelines. 94 children died in a fire and 13 years later we yet have no guidelines,” said the Bench. The Kumbakonam tragedy occurred in July 2004 when a fire sparked from a make-shift kitchen preparing Mid-Day Meal and spread to the thatched roof under which 200 children were seated in their classrooms.

Following the incident, a PIL filed by one Avinash Mehrotra pointed out that such tragedies require remedial measures as fatality results due to faulty designs, lack of passages for fire engines to douse flames, and above all, absence of a disaster management plan.

Though the Court had been working to get the Government conscious to this cause, it was irritated on Friday to read an affidavit filed by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) as it did not specify the way forward but harped again and again the point that it was not its job to educate schools about disaster management but was doing so on the insistence by Court.

The Bench termed the affidavit “disastrous” and said, “It shows the respect Government has for us.”

 ASG Tushar Mehta submitted that 2016 Guidelines are in place which provides for a disaster action plan at state and district level.

But on the question of enforcing it, he sought time till Monday to prepare a draft. 



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