Navi Mumbai’s Regional Transport Office is working to ensure school buses under its watch stick to safety norms issued by the Supreme Court in 1997.
This follows the accident in Panvel, on Thursday morning, when 22 school children suffered burn injuries, eight of them serious, after the mini bus they were travelling in caught fire.
Around 350 buses ply within Navi Mumbai Regional Transport Office’s (RTO) jurisdiction. Navi Mumbai Deputy Regional Transport Officer, Bharat Kalaskar, said, “We have so far issued memos to seven of the several buses checked. We have asked them to take immediate steps to conform to the guidelines, failing which we will take strict action against them.”
The Panvel fire was reportedly caused by a spark in the diesel tank of the bus. Thirty-eight students from class 5 to 10
were travelling in the bus, which had been hired by the parents two years ago.
“Thursday’s incident did not occur in our area (Panvel is under Raigad RTO), but we’ve stepped up our efforts to ensure nothing of the sort happens here,” said Kalaskar. The Navi Mumbai RTO had sent a circular with guidelines to all schools at the start of the academic year, he added.
The Raigad RTO has registered a case against Vishwanath Phadtare (24), driver and owner of the bus. It is waiting for the forensic report, expected by Saturday, for the exact cause of the fire. Panvel police on Thursday arrested Phadtare and his cleaner Anil Yadav (20) for negligence under Indian Penal Code Section 287 for bringing faulty machinery on to the road causing injury.
Raigad Deputy RTO Bajrang Kharmate said, “We have registered a case against the bus owner in Pen court under Section 192 A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, for plying the vehicle without the requisite permit to carry children.”