A report submitted by the Punjab government before the Punjab and Haryana high court raises serious questions about the safety of children being ferried in school buses across the state. The state government on Friday told the court that in an exercise undertaken by it, 193 school buses out of 678 checked across the state between April 1 and May 20 were found being driven by drivers without driving licences. The government report also states that 386 buses were found running without valid permits, 255 had violations of speed governor norms and in the case of 229 buses, first-aid boxes installed were not found proper. As many as 41 school buses' drivers were booked for speeding during this period.
The report has been submitted by the government following scathing observations from the high court on violations of the Safe School Vahan Scheme formulated for the safe transportation of schoolchildren. The report was submitted in the bench of justice Rajive Bhalla during the hearing of suo motu proceedings initiated by the high court in 2009.
Concerned over the submissions, the court bench has sought details of buses with valid permits and those being run illegally in Punjab and Haryana by the next date of hearing, August 7. Justice Bhalla also asked the Punjab government to increase the enforcement substantially across the state.
The violations ranged from plying without permit, unfit buses, nonfunctional speed governors, improper first-aid boxes etc. During the exercise, 322 buses were impounded, the government has told the court.
Additional advocate general, Punjab, Rajinder Goyal also told the high court that the government had amended provisions of the scheme and now each school bus would have two CCTV cameras, adding that provisions had been made for making hydraulic doors mandatory under the scheme.
The HC also directed the Punjab and Haryana governments to consider whether it was possible to provide basic life support training to female attendants being employed in such buses, while observing that in the case of any accident, it could help in administering quick first aid to students being ferried.