A forum of parents’ teachers association (PTA) wrote to the Maharashtra transport department on Thursday to stop vehicles which have not signed common standard agreements from ferrying school children, from the coming academic year, 2017-18.
The order was issued in response to a public interest litigation filed by PTA United Forum complaining about private vans and small vehicles ferrying school children without following any safety norms
It directs the Maharashtra government to “see that proper care and caution is taken avoid or stop such vehicles which do not come under the Common Standard Agreement guidelines.”
The petitioners said that even though the school bus policy was formulated by the government, containing over 2,000 safety measures to be followed by school buses, many schools allowed their children to travel in light motor vehicles, which were not following the safety measures. It added that schools would not sign the CSA with school buses fearing responsibility.
“Light motor vehicles are causing traffic congestions and risking security of the children. They are often crammed into the cars or made to sit on engines,” said Rama Subramanian, advocate. She said that schools were still allowing such vehicles because it was cheaper than hiring a school bus complying with safety norms. “These light vehicles are run by fly by night operators, who do not take any responsibility for safety of the students,” she added. “Enforcement agencies, too, were not monitoring them properly.
Additionally, the petitioners have asked the government to prepare a separate category for private vans and small vehicles. A notification issued by the central government on September 8, has stated that the minimum seating capacity of a school bus must be at least 13, which effectively means that vans or smaller vehicles will not be allowed to ferry school children.
“Earlier private vans were also considered under the category of a school bus, but now the government will have to create a separate category for them,” said Subramanian.