Regional Transport Office (RTO) authorities made a renewed promise to crack down on illegal vans plying school children at a meeting of school principals and Wadala RTO officials on the school bus safety policy on Tuesday.
The workshop comes in the wake of the alleged molestation of a student from a Juhu school, while travelling on a school bus two weeks ago. This is the third meeting between principals and the local RTO.
Although technically, vans, Sumos and autos can transport school children, experts have pointed out contradictions in the policy.
The government resolution on bus safety includes vans, autos and light motor vehicles in the school bus category. “Including other vehicles in the category of school bus is a contradiction because safety conditions in totality cannot be implemented in these vehicles,” said Indrani Malkani, member of the government committee that drafted the school bus safety policy. Malkani has written to the government to rectify this.
“We have been conducting checks on illegal vans, but we will make a renewed effort,” said V Shinde, assistant transport officer, Wadala RTO. “It is the joint responsibility of the RTO and the traffic police.”
Principals and bus operators have been complaining that while buses are made to follow stringent safety norms, there are no checks on vans. “There are so many vans running illegally and parents continue to send their children in these.” said Girija Suresh, principal of St George School, Mulund.
Education department officials exhorted principals to sensitise parents to the dangers. “They may be cheaper but have higher risks,” said TM Dongre, education inspector (north).
Tardeo RTO officials said they had not received any complaints against illegal vans and have issued around 140 permits to such vehicles. “If they have a permit, they can transport school children,” said J Bansod, deputy regional transport officer, Tardeo RTO.