Had the state strictly enforced the school bus safety policy, Viraj Devendra Parmar, 9, would be alive.
More than two months ago, the school education department issued an order on the school bus safety policy, but it has not checked whether schools are implementing it.
Clearly, Shri Vallabhashram School in Sion (east) has not done much. “We provided the safety norms to the bus owners, they did not follow it,” said principal Rosy Singh.
Viraj, a student of the school, died on Wednesday after he stuck his head out of the bus window and it hit a metal board.
The policy makes it mandatory for the bus – which has two metal bars with uneven gaps between them – to have three bars on the window with gaps too small to allow children to stick their heads out.
“The verification – whether the terms are being followed - has not happened,” said an education department official, requesting anonymity. “Now that an accident has happened we need to check.”
An official said a detailed order had been issued on September 14, but it has not been uploaded on the website.
It is unclear whether all schools have received the common standard agreement – the understanding between a school and its bus operator without which the RTO can’t issue a permit to an operator. The agreement details the safety guidelines.
“It is unbelievable if the policy is not being implemented,” said Indrani Malkani, member of the state committee that worked on the policy. “The education department is to answer if it hasn’t given the documents to schools.”
Some principals said they have got the circular asking them to follow the policy. “We are following the safety clauses,” said Kavita Aggarwal, principal, DG Khetan International School in Malad.
“Making a policy is not enough. You need to spend money to implement it,” said Anil Garg, president of School Bus Operators’ Association who is calling a meeting of bus operators to ensure they are following the norms.