Mumbai: School fails to produce basic documents like OC in fire safety inspection

A report filed by a fire officer reveals that the JBCN International School in Borivli could not even produce an amended fire NOC

The management of JBCN International School in Borivli and parents of a few students studying there have been at loggerheads for quite sometime now. While a case about the fee hike introduced by the school is still being heard at the Bombay High Court, the school has found itself in the soup once more.

A case about fee hike at the school is being fought in the Bombay High Court. Pic/Nimesh Dave
A case about fee hike at the school is being fought in the Bombay High Court. Pic/Nimesh Dave

A report filed by a Borivli fire station officer has revealed that at the time of inspection on May 29, the school could not produce basic documents such as an Occupation Certificate (OC) and other documents like an amended fire NOC to the officer.

“A parent had complained that the school was not following fire safety operations, so we visited the school on May 29. The school is already functioning and a check revealed that construction work is still going on in the building. While they produced a fire NOC dated 06/06/2013, they couldn’t produce an amended NOC,” said R B Soares, Borivli fire station officer.

An amended NOC is to be taken as a building nears completion. He added that the school could not even produce an Occupation Certificate (OC) (authorised by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) at the time of inspection. The report Soares filed on June 9 regarding this inspection clearly states that ‘if the school is being conducted without OC for the building, it is highly objectionable in fire safety and fire risk point of view’.

The report further recommends that this building be verified/inspected by officials from the Building Proposals Department of BMC (Western Suburbs). The parents were livid when they got this document. It was given to a parent who had complained about the school not following fire safety norms.

“The school charges lakhs of rupees in the name of fees every year but never revealed to the parents that they don’t have basic documents needed to run a school. On what basis have they been demanding fee hikes when their school building is not approved by the government?” asked one of the parents.

School speak
The authorities at JBCN International School said they are following rules. “Our liaisoning department has followed all protocols and we have complied with all rules and regulations with requisite permissions. While some procedures have come through some are awaited by regulatory authorities.

The report by Borivli Fire Brigade only speaks of non production of documents which being important, are in safe custody of school authorities and since visit on 29/5/15 was during school vacation, and without prior intimation, the documents sought could not be produced immediately. The necessary compliances are being done,” said a spokesperson.

Advocate Avisha Kulkarni who is representing parents of JBCN school in court for the fees issue, said the school is functioning on a commencement certificate, given at the beginning of construction. “How can they claim they are following rules when something as basic as the OC is missing?

The commencement certificate means they are still finishing construction work, and the school has been officially working since 2010 just on this document. The bigger question is how has the education department allowed this school to function?” asked Kulkarni. A group of parents has already complained about the lack of the OC to the BMC.

'BMC must take note'
A Supreme Court judgment stated compulsory fire safety rules for schools must be followed after the 2004 Kumbakonam school incident. “Fire safety audits were supposed to be a regular feature but the school buildings are maintained by BMC, and they need to take keen interest in this as well.

The last time the education department did a check on schools, many schools didn’t have the right infrastructure to incorporate changes so as to make their school safe in case of fire,” said B B Chavan, education inspector, south zone.

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