Two and half months after the Murud tragedy, which claimed the lives of 13 students of Abeda Inamdar College, college authorities have sent their internal committee report to the state higher education department and the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU), to which the college is affiliated. The fact-finding committee set up by the college authorities have absolved the management and teachers of any blame and said that there has been no negligence on their part.
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In a letter issued to SPPU, joint director of higher education Dr Vijay Narkhede had sought an inquiry and precautions taken by the college within 48 hours of the incident. Among the primary points sought in the report was whether the college management had complied with the Guidelines on Safety of Students on and off Campus of Higher Education Institutions issued by the University Grants Commission last year. However, in its report, the college claims to have followed all norms regarding students’ safety.
“In its report, the college told us that the same group of teachers have been taking the trip every year and it is not the first time that they went to a beach location. They claim to have taken adequate safety measures, including keeping more than the required number of teachers in accordance to the student ratio. The report also includes statements of surviving students who were part of the picnic group. We have sent the report to the higher authorities and are awaiting instructions,” Narkhede said.
The department has asked the varsity to find out reasons for conducting the trip, whether written consent of parents was sought, UGC guidelines followed, details of minutes of meeting taken by the college management before the trip and whether those details were shared with the students, any other precautions taken for the safety of students during the trip and so on.
Among the UGC guidelines, the major points to be investigated were if a qualified doctor with adequate supply of medicines was present since the entourage had more than 50 students, insuring students against various emergencies/ risks, a training session for students on the geography, risk zones, hazardous locations and climate, and medical fitness of students for the trip.
Asked if details like an accompanying doctor on the trip and training on local geography was included in the report, Narkhede said that college authorities didn’t specify. “They just mentioned having followed the guidelines,” he said.
SPPU authorities, who have received the same report from the college, have put it before their own inquiry committee which was set up since Inamdar college authorities hadn’t bothered to respond to several of its reminders for an internal report.
Even as the committee is mulling over the report, what has left authorities miffed is Inamdar’s insistence not to discuss the report until a particular date. Asked about the embargo, vice-chancellor Wasudeo Gade said, “No college can tell the university what to do. We have put the report before our committee and would soon declare its report.”
Meanwhile, PA Inamdar, president, MCE society, which runs the college, refused to discuss the report. “Since a question was raised in the Assembly over this, we cannot discuss it now according to legal procedures,” he said.