BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha government on Friday began demolishing the 65-year-old Bahanaga High School building that was used as a temporary morgue for victims of Coromandel Express.
The demolition was being carried out in presence of the school managing committee (SMC) members and Public Works Department officials.
The decision to raze the building was taken after the SMC said it was old and not safe and that kids were reluctant to attend classes in the school where bodies were kept.
Guardians had also demanded demolition of the building as photos of bodies being ferried to the school for identification by their families had been imprinted in the minds of children.
Based on the SMC’s decision and request by guardians and locals, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik held a meeting with senior government officials including the Chief Secretary and sanctioned reconstruction of the institute on Thursday.
He also approved a proposal to make it a model school with modern facilities such as a library, science laboratory and digital classrooms.
During his visit to the institution on Thursday, Balasore Collector Dattatraya Bhausaheb Shinde had said the school managing committee wanted the building to be demolished.
The district collector appealed to all not to spread fear and superstition, suggesting that efforts should instead be made to inculcate a scientific temper in the young, impressionable minds.
School and Mass Education Department Secretary S Aswathy said the authorities will organise counselling for students and teachers to remove fear from their minds.
Two days after the June 2 train accident, the state government shifted the bodies from the school to different hospitals in Bhubaneswar.
While above 200 bodies have so far been identified and handed over to their families, around 80 still remain unclaimed and unidentified at Bhubaneswar AIIMS morgue, officials said.
The Coromandel Express had crashed into a stationary goods train, derailing most of its coaches on June 2. A few of those toppled over the last few coaches of the Bengaluru-Howrah Express which was passing by at the same time. In all, 288 people died in the accident and more than 1,200 were injured. (PTI)