GUWAHATI: An assessment of safety features in the structural design of 16,524 government schools in 10 districts of Assam done by Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) way back in 2017 revealed that 4,870 (29 per cent) school buildings don't conform to the safety norms required to withstand natural calamities such as earthquakes.
Four years after the survey no major initiative has so far been taken to either repair or retrofit these buildings to make them safe. As a result, most of the school buildings had suffered major damage during Wednesday's (April 28, 2021) earthquake that jolted the State.
"In the last four years, the assessment report of the SSA had only gathered dust in the tables of different government departments. Neither the Education Department nor the PWD did anything to strengthen structures of the school buildings," a source in the SSA said, adding most of these buildings would completely collapse in case of any more high-intensity earthquake in future.
The Rule 6.4.7 of the SSA's framework for implementation provides that school buildings should incorporate safety features for resistance against hazards to ensure that children receive education in a safe and secure environment.
The rule adds that structural safety features to withstand natural hazards such as earthquakes should be built into the designs of new school buildings and existing school buildings should be retrofitted.
The source said most of the 4,870 schools not fulfilling the safety norms were old buildings that require repair and renovation.
"There are constraints for providing earthquake resistant structures in every government school. It is not always possible to provide seismic-resistant features in existing old structures as there is no provision for retrofitting. Moreover, because of limitations of space and design posed by the existing old structures, it becomes difficult the required seismic-resistant features to such structures," an official of the PWD said.