The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Monday produced in the Supreme Court the draft communication on safety policy and adherence of guidelines on disaster management for schools, which would be sent by it to all state governments. The NDMA placed the draft letter, which would be sent to the chief secretaries and the secretaries incharge of education departments of all states, before a bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud, which approved it and expressed satisfaction on the steps taken.
The apex court directed that the guidelines and policy spelt out by the NDMA in the letter should be implemented by all the concerned authorities in the states.
“We are satisfied with the draft letter to be sent by the NDMA to all the chief secretaries and secretary incharge of the education department of all states. We hereby direct that the same will be implemented by all concerned authorities,” the bench said while disposing of the petition.
The bench was dealing with a PIL filed one Avinash Mehrotra seeking safety guidelines for school after the Dabwali fire incident in Haryana and the Kumbakonam tragedy in Tamil Nadu.
In the draft letter placed before the court, the NDMA has said that guidelines on school safety policy 2016 prepared by it were statutory in nature and statutorily required to be complied with “scrupulously without any deviation”.
“Special attention should be paid to fire safety. All the requirements to ensure safety of children in schools mentioned in the said policy of 2016 are statutory in nature and everyone involved in the process of ensuring safety of children are statutorily bound by the same,” the letter said.
It further asked the states that the district education officer of each district “shall be declared to be a nodal officer with responsibility, liablity and obligation” as well as powers and functions to ensure strict compliance with the national disaster management guidelines (school safety policy) 2016 within the district of his jurisdiction.
“It is observed that the CBSE schools, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan do not fall within the jurisdiction of the state administration or district education officer of each district in a state. For the purpose of administration of these schools, the central government can directly monitor them.
“However so far as the implementation of national disaster management guidelines (school safety policy) 2016 is concerned, it is imperative that a nodal officer is earmarked who can ensure adherence and compliance to the said policy by all above referred schools and who is functioning at local district level,” it said.
The NDMA has further said that it would be the duty of district disaster management authority to ensure compliance with the guidelines on the school safety policy and monitor its compliance.
“The chief secretary of each state will satisfy himself about the due discharge of functions by the district disaster management authority as well as district education officer as a nodal officer and would send a report containing compilation of quarterly reports received by him from the district level authorities/nodal officer to the department of school education and literacy, Ministry of HRD as well as NDMA,” it said.
It said that department of school education and literacy, Ministry of Human Resources and Development and the NDMA would jointly monitor the implementation of the guidelines at the national level through periodical meetings for each state and periodical reviews.
The apex court had earlier pulled up the union government for not coming up with guidelines on disaster mangement to make schools safer even after the death of a large number of children in fire incidents in Dabwali and Kumbakonam. It had then asked NDMA to come up with comprehensive guidelines to prevent such incidents.