The deadline for the school-bus operators in the city to deploy women attendants, install close circuit television cameras and global positioning systems (GPS) in buses has been extended by one month.
The deadline has been moved further considering the demand of the members of the Chandigarh School Bus Operators Welfare Association, who had expressed their inability to adhere to the July-1 deadline.
Though, during at meeting on June 18, the bus transporters had requested education secretary Sarvjit Singh to extend the date by two months - from July 1 to September 30 - it has been extended by a month only.
Confirming the development, Sarvjit Singh said the month-long time should be enough to adhere to the guidelines.
"Enough time has been given. It's a matter of safety of children, especially girl students, so we can't take chances anymore. One more month has been given to them and suitable action will be taken against the violator after August 1."
Pertinent to mention that in May, after a five-year-old girl student was allegedly molested by a school bus conductor, UT education secretary Saravjit Singh had framed new guidelines for schools, which were supposed to come into force from July 1.
As part of these guidelines, schools are supposed to install a GPS system in buses to keep a record of the route followed and the vehicle's speed graph, install CCTV cameras inside buses and depute a woman bus attendant.
Welcoming the decision, Manjit Singh, president, school bus operators' welfare association said, "It was not possible to meet the deadline as the association has signed a contract with a company that may take more time to install equipment in around 800 buses."
He also urged the administration to allow the buses to commute without woman attendants for a month on a trial basis. "We have requested to allow the buses with GPS and CCTV cameras to commute for one month on trial basis. In case things don't work, we will deploy them,"added Manjit. Since they will be required to employ two attendants in a bus, including a woman, the bus operators have also sought hike in transportation fees.
Anuja Sharma, principal, DAV Model School, Sector 15, said, "It is the duty of transporters to ensure the safety of children. We are not in favour of increasing the cost of transportation for students."