Mumbai’s Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) plans to have miniature disaster management cells in some of the biggest civic schools in the city, depending on their geographical location, size and the kind of calamities and diseases they are prone to. It will then train 5,000 students and 1,000 teachers in its schools in controlling and operating the cells.
Private schools and smaller municipal schools can then avail of the facilities and services of the trained students and teachers.
“In the recent flood thousands of our students were stranded in schools or in buses. Now, we want them to be capable enough to tackle such a situation in the future,” said A Karande, BMC deputy municipal commissioner, education. Drills would be conducted round the year, except during examination months, she added.
The training, set to start next month, will have students performing mock drills, conducted with the help of the BMC’s disaster management cell, fire brigade officials, health officials, and disaster management experts.
The students will also be provided with disaster management manuals in various languages and equipment to help them tackle flood or a landslide.
Many schools have welcomed the BMC initiative. Shobdha Patil, deputy principal of Prabhadevi Municipal Marathi School, said after the deluge the kids were sacred and needed this kind of move to instill confidence in them. “The BMC should take parents of the kids also into confidence during the programme,” she said.
However, not all are optimistic about the success of the programme. “Why are they closing the gate after the horse has left the stable? There is no serious thinking going behind the programme,” said Ramesh Joshi, general secretary of the Brihanmumbai Mahapalika Shikshak Sabha.
Two years ago the BMC had conducted an earthquake simulation training programme to teach children ways to handle an earthquake. The BMC has nearly 5,30,540 students in its 2,000 schools in the city. It also employs some 13,660 teachers in these schools.