Some private schools in the city are phasing out buses and replacing them with SUVs after Surakshit School Vahan or safe school vehicles policy was introduced by the Haryana government last year. The cars are not equipped with CCTV cameras or GPS locators, which has been made mandatory for all school buses.
Under the surakshit school vahan, school buses should install two CCTV cameras -- one each in the front and rear of the school buses -- with digital video recorder (DVR), monitor and cables to ensure safer transport facility for students. It must be fitted with a speed governor, and the words, “School Bus”, must be written on the rear and front of the vehicle.
Moreover, the bus driver should have at least five years of driving experience and wear a uniform. The school bus should also have a conductor and woman attendant.
After the policy was introduced, private schools raised objections and said a huge capital investment will be required to install cameras, GPS locators and to hire two attendants for each vehicle.
“The government does not want the schools to increase their fee but they want us to fulfil new requirements put forward every day. The government should understand that though policies are for the benefit of students, money-crunch will be a major hindrance,” a private school principal, requesting anonymity, said.
After a series of notifications and tight inspections by the district authorities, a number of private schools abided by the surakshit school vahan policy but a few started phasing out school buses. Instead, they use SUVs such as Innova, Tavera and Scorpio to pick up and drop students. However, unlike buses, the cars do not have CCTV cameras or GPS locators.
“When the new academic session started, the school replaced buses with SUVs for students living in South City 1, Sushant Lok and a few blocks of DLF. We wrote to the school but no reply was received and finally we decided to drop our child ourselves,” said Radhika Batra, a parent.
No attendants accompany the students and the drivers do not wear a uniform. The vehicles are also missing the speed governors and the words “School Bus”.
“The drivers do not follow speed limit and are in casual attire. No attendants accompany the students and this is unsafe,” said Geetika Thakran, a parent.
The Road Transport Authority (RTA), after receiving complaints from parents and inspections done, said schools are not allowed to replace buses with cabs. The RTA officials also said challans are issued to such cars carrying schoolchildren.
“Around 30 cars are challaned by the RTA officials each month for ferrying children. The vehicles are unsafe and strict action will be taken against schools for phasing out buses,” an RTA official said.