Mumbai: After the fire in coaching classes in Surat, in which 21 students died, the focus is now on private coaching classes across the country. There are over one lakh coaching classes in Maharashtra and 30,000-35,000 in this city and there has been no fire audits done regularly. Anil Deshmukh, Nationalist Congress Party leader and former minister, has made startling allegation against state Education Minister Vinod Tawde, saying there is a financial nexus between Tawde and the owners of coaching classes. “That is why he is turning blind eye to the excesses of these classes. We want the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to immediately regularise these classes,” said Deshmukh.
Deshmukh accused the authorities of ignoring the various laws broken by the coaching classes and these need to be put in check. “There is no regular fire audit being conducted. Most of these are in congested buildings with a single entry and exit point,” alleged Deshmukh. In 2017, after a discussion on coaching classes in the Assembly, a committee of 12 members was set up to prepare a report. The committee submitted the report to Tawde in 2018. “However till now, there has been no progress on this report. These recommendations are yet to be implemented as a law,” said Deshmukh.He alleged that fire audit was not being conducted across the coaching classes, which he said are located in densely located areas.
“The Surat-like incident can very much occur in Maharashtra or Mumbai. The minister is sitting on it. There is a quid pro quo between him and private coaching classes’ association,” he alleged. Terming Deshmukh’s remarks “unfortunate”, Tawde asked whether the former education minister was “sleeping” when the draft was being worked out. He further said the provisions in the Act would have troubled household women tutors as well as poor students who take tuitions to support their higher education.“Therefore, some changes are being made in the draft bill,” he added.