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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Rajiv Gandhi Academy of E-Learning: Week after kid’s death, safety norms still take a backseat

Civic body-run school says proposal on necessary action sent, PMC says no complaint received

Written by Alifiya Khan | Pune | Published: December 6, 2016 2:44:38 am
gate-759 The window from which the student fell down to death has now been locked but a glass railing just one floor down continues to be a threat. Express Photo by Alifiya Khan

The civic authority-run Rajiv Gandhi Academy of E-Learning in Sahakar Nagar where, barely a week ago, a Class 6th student fell to his death from three floors after accidentally jumping through an unsecured window, doesn’t seem to have learnt any lessons.

The incident happened on November 29 when the deceased child, Shubham Tukaram Khandale, jumped on the false ceiling of the school’s auditorium through an unlocked window to retrieve a shuttlecock that he had lost during a game of badminton.

While it took the death of one child to get the school authorities to secure the window with two locks, a bigger threat has gone unnoticed. Just one floor below the spot from where Shubham fell to his death lies the second floor, marked for classrooms of third standard. The floor has a long passage with classrooms on one side and a glass railing on the other. Notably, the railing is only waist high and, in one place, reaches only upto the knees. What is worse is that the area is completely accessible to students. One slip could lead to a fatal fall at least two floors below, directly on the steps leading up to the school’s main entrance.

On the steps taken by the school administration to ensure the safety of the students following the mishap, school in-charge Charusheela Mantri said, “The corporation authorities had come for an inspection on the day of the accident and that day itself we locked up the window closing the access to the false ceiling.”

When asked about the glass railing, the school authorities admitted that it is a security concern. “Actually the last incident could not be anticipated. However, in this case, we have moved a proposal to secure the area with an iron grill. Now, it is up to the corporation to get the work done,” said Mantri.

Asked why temporary measures for safety were not taken in the interim, like shifting classes to another floor, she added that they needed all the classrooms to accommodate students.

“We are allotting classrooms looking at the class strength and room size so there is no possibility of moving older students on this floor,” she added.

However, officials at Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) said they cannot recall any such proposal. “I have joined a few months ago and so far, I cannot remember seeing any such proposal. However, I agree with the assessment that this area could be unsafe and will immediately speak with the engineers to secure the area. We will come up with a solution in the next couple of days,” said Dipak Mali, secondary education officer, PMC.

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