Private schools in Ghaziabad have come under scrutiny not just because of their shocking fee hikes, but also because of a far more serious issue – one that puts children’s lives in danger.
The enforcement department of Ghaziabad Development Authority (GDA) is set to crack down on private schools found to be conducting classes – extracurricular or otherwise – in basements or on higher floors beyond the set storeys specified by GDA.
In February, GDA had issued guidelines, one of which reads: “Nursery and elementary schools should be housed in single-storey buildings, and the maximum number of floors in school buildings shall be restricted to three, including the ground floor.”
The guidelines were issued following complaints from parents that a few schools were conducting classes in their basements, while some others were constructing even fourth and fifth storeys.
Speaking to City Spidey, Shivani Jain, president of All Schools Parent Association (ASPA), said that almost all private schools in the district use their basements as libraries, activity rooms or even regular classrooms. “This is illegal and can endanger children’s lives. Let alone constructing higher floors, some schools have even installed mobile network towers on their buildings.”
“We have been pursuing the matter for more than two years now and have informed all the authorities about this violation of GDA guidelines,” Jain added.
GDA had issued these guidelines following a verdict PIL by the Supreme Court in 2009. The PIL was filed after 94 children were charred to death in 2004 at a private school in Tamil Nadu due to problems in infrastructure, lack of a secure evacuation plan and ineffective fire safety.
Dayanand Prasad, OSD of GDA said that the list of schools violating the guidelines would soon be finalised and action initiated on Monday, May 29, without any prior warning. “No notices will be issued to schools found holding classes in the basement. These basements will be sealed then and there,” Prasad said.