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Buses flout SC guidelines

Despite repeated incidents of speeding school buses and untrained drivers snuffing out young lives and a slew of guidelines, authorities have failed to curb such accidents.

delhi Updated: Nov 25, 2008 23:31 IST
Swaha Sahoo

Despite repeated incidents of speeding school buses and untrained drivers snuffing out young lives and a slew of guidelines, authorities have failed to curb such accidents.

“The school is entirely to be blamed for such tragic incidents. The school should have ensured that the driver was trained,” said Manika Dutta, a parent residing in Ashok Vihar.

Dutta expressed concern over the fact that school authorities were defending the driver in today’s case. “Instead of looking at what went wrong and how to address the problem, the principal was trying to find fault with the parents,” said a visibly angered Dutta.

Soon after the Wazirabad bus tragedy in November 1997, which left 29 school children dead, the Supreme Court had issued a set of guidelines about the essentials in a school bus.

“The guidelines specifically say an attendant from the school must be present. The role of the attendant is to ensure children climb into and get out of a bus safely,” said Sarita Kalra, whose daughters study in South Delhi school.

“The attendant must ensure the bus halts before children get down and leaves only after the door closes,” she said. “But few attendants are as careful,” Kalra said.

S. L. Jain, chairman, National Progressive Schools' Conference, an association of prominent schools in the capital, said, “Most schools follow the Supreme Court guidelines, which specify the driver and the conductor should be licensed.”

Jain said all drivers at his school — Mahavir Senior Model School — were badge holders. “A badge holder is a driver who has gained seniority and is experienced in driving heavy vehicles. Not all drivers can drive a bus,” said Jain. He added that all efforts are made not just to monitor the standards of school buses but also to sensitise and train drivers to make them feel responsible.

In May 2007, the Delhi cabinet had approved a new scheme for regulating school taxis. Under this scheme, school cabs were supposed to have speed governors and amber flashing lights affixed to the top four corners on the exterior. The drivers were required to undergo special training. However, the scheme has not been implemented.