NHRC Asks Odisha Govt To Pay Compensation To 7 Injured School Students In Keonjhar

Bhubaneswar: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the Odisha government to pay Rs 10,000 as compensation to each of the seven school students who were injured after the ceiling plaster of classroom fell on them at a school in Keonjhar district.

The Commission asked the Chief Secretary to recover the compensation amount of Rs 70,000 from the erring junior engineer for his negligence in supervision of works undertaken, due to which the accident took place. It also sought submission of the proof of payment of compensation, reports said.

The incident had taken place at Arjunbilla Primary School under Ghatagaon block in Keonjhar district in September 2023. The NHRC passed the order on Friday acting on petitions filed by rights activist and advocate Radhakanta Tripathy.

It was alleged that a boy and six girls got injured as the ceiling plater of the school classroom fell on them. The headmistress repeatedly informed the block education officer (BEO) for reconstruction of the new classroom and, after no action, the classroom was repaired with the help of Badjamupasi panchayat official. The incident allegedly occurred due to use of sub-standard construction materials.

Acting on the directions of the NHRC earlier, the Keonjhar SP sent the report of an enquiry conducted by the SDPO, Ghatgaon, stating that the school has been existing for the last 20 years and the building needed repair. The repair work was conducted under the supervision of JE, Ghatagaon block and was completed September 19, 2022. Later, the rooms were utilised by the school authority for taking classes. However, plaster slab of around three feet in length collapsed when the students of Classes IV and V were attending their classes.

As a result, some students sustained critical injuries and were admitted to the community health centre at Ghatagaon. They were discharged from hospital after two days. Demanding an inquiry, the guardians filed petitions before the BDO, Ghatagaon alleging use of substandard materials in the repair work of the school building.

Accordingly, a probe was conducted and the District Collector transferred the JE. Departmental action has been taken against the JE for her lack of supervision to monitor the repair work of the school building and negligence in her duty.

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