The inability of district administration to enforce Supreme Court’s guidelines on school vans can be gauged by the fact that action has been taken against only 1% of the total schools vans operating in Bhopal despite a sustained campaign for the purpose for over a year.
There are around 4,500 schools vans operating in the city. However, since the drive has begun against the school vans, the regional transport office (RTO) has taken action against only 45-50 school vans.
The district administration is blaming shortage of staff at the RTO and lack of resources for slow action against the school vans running without permit while nearly one lakh school children, who travel in these school vans every day, are vulnerable to mishaps.
Collector Bhopal Nishant Warwade said lack of manpower was one of the biggest obstacles to ensure an effective campaign. It is one of the primary reasons behind slow action against school vans, he added.
Warwade said the district administration was concerned about the safety of the school children and it would definitely come up with a solution to improve the pace of drive against illegal school vans, which began in July, 2014. However, it lost fizz within a fortnight of opening of schools.
The owners of school vans meanwhile have not shown any eagerness in complying with the Supreme Court guidelines, as decided during the meeting between the district administration and van operators.
Chairperson of Madhya Pradesh State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MPSCPCR) Usha Chaturvedi said the school van drivers were provided with one month’s time to get permit from RTO but they failed in doing so.
It is a tough task for RTO staff to check all the school vans but the continuous action against the vans may have pressurised the operators to follow the guidelines properly, she added.
Chaturvedi said the commission has taken cognisance in the issue earlier also and would keep an eye on the drive to ensure safety of the school children.
Leader of School Van Owner’s Association Shiv Kumar Soni told HT that the schools were not providing written permission to the school van drivers due to which they were facing problem in getting permit from the RTO. He said the RTO officials were not ready to listen to their issues and were continuously seizing the vans.