It is a familiar sight in Bhopal, Indore and elsewhere in the state.
Children packed like sardines in autos making the risky way to school every morning.
Despite a Madhya Pradesh High Court order saying that auto-rickshaws cannot transport more than three passengers and wooden planks should not be used to accommodate more passengers, the three-wheelers ferry between 10 to 12 kids to schools.
And they seem to be getting away.
“When I asked the auto driver why he is carrying so many students risking their lives, he asked me to arrange my own transport. I have no other option since the school bus does not service my colony,” said Nirmala Chaturvedi, who stays in Saumya Vihar Awadhpuri.
The response of the authorities is shocking. District collector Nishant Warwade told HT, “I will have to go through the high court’s order. Only then will I instruct officials to crack down if there are violations. The school authorities, too, have to come forward and lodge complaints.”
Last year, Justice SK Gangele and Justice BK Dubey delivered the verdict on a PIL filed by advocate Avadesh Singh Bhadauria.
It clearly says that autos will not be allowed to carry more than three children to school and back.
It also asked the administration to cancel the licenses of autos that violate this norm.
Soon after, the administration swung into action. Officials from the Regional Transport Office in Bhopal cracked down, fined and confiscated a few autos, but the drive fizzled out and it was back to the old ways.
Auto rickshaw associations say that even if they would prefer to follow the court directives, they cannot because of the high cost of transportation, especially after the frequent rise in fuel prices.