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School board panel indicts officials of AMC's engg dept Sunday, July 8, 2001
The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: Elected members of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation's school board have swung the needle of suspicion - over death of eight-year-old student Aftab Alam Sheikh in the Rajpur school wall collapse last month - back to the administrative wing.
The two-member committee - Dinesh Rawal and Jagdish Bhavsar - of the municipal school board submitted their investigation report on Friday and indicted officials of the engineering department of AMC and the contractors employed by them to demolish the damaged school building.
The inquiry report - third in this case - is in stark contrast to the investigation carried out by the deputy municipal commissioner (administration) Vinay Vyasa. Vyasa had found employees of the school board - two principals of municipal schools (17 and 18), education supervisor and the administrative officer - responsible for the mishap that put off the reopening of municipal schools for the third consecutive time since the Republic Day quake.
Jagdish Bhavsar said: "Five months have passed since the quake, and only on May 23 (after a school collapsed in Maninagar and a staircase of another in Meghaninagar broke) did the administrative wing shake itself out of its reverie and decided to start demolishing school buildings."
He added, "But, this too was done without informing the board or the school officials. I have in my possession a letter dated June 25 which lists out 10 to-be-demolished school buildings. It says that demolition work would begin from June 25. The contractors on the day of Rath Yatra started demolishing without informing the principals who protested because they had not been officially intimated."
The investigators of school board revealed that at AMC's west zone office in Usmanpura a meeting had finalised the contractors to handle the demolition of municipal school building on June 22. "Then why the delay in informing the school board?" Bhavsar asked.
The chairman of municipal school board committee, Ganpat Parmar said that the school principals were just doing their duty and cannot be held responsible for Aftab's death. After considering the investigations done by police (who found the contractor responsible for shoddy job), by the board and AMC administration Parmar said: "I will not take any action against my board employees because two of the three investigations point towards the contractor and logically towards the employers of the contractor. This is an administrative lapse and innocent cannot be penalised."
The school board has sent their inquiry report to the commissioner and the mayor for suitable action against responsible officers in the engineering department for delay in repair or demolition of schools "that caused the mishap on June 26."
Dinesh Rawal, of the school board, added: "Since last five years I have cried myself hoarse that repair and maintenance of municipal schools were not up to the mark. That did not change much. For months and even years together the students of municipal schools who belong to the lower and middle strata of society have been neglected by the corporation's administration and even forced to sit out in the open."
Rawal alleged, "The school buildings are in a broken down condition because of non-maintenance over the last decade. Who else but the administration of AMC is responsible for turning a blind eye to the maintenance of infrastructure for the municipal education system. After the mishap, when its time to own up to their responsibility, the administrative officers of AMC are trying to turn innocent people into scapegoats."
News Source : Times Of India News Service [ Lightning News ]