Less than four months after four students died in Panvel after their school bus caught fire, two school buses collided on Palm Beach road on Friday, injuring nine students and two teachers.
At around 7.30 am near the Karave village junction, the two buses, contracted by Delhi Public School (DPS), Seawoods, Nerul, and Seventh Day Adventist School, Sanpada, collided – with about 70 students in both buses.
The DPS driver Munnala Parshi (41) was arrested and booked for rough and negligent driving leading to injury and damage of vehicle.
DPS student Rohit Garg (9) — the last to board the bus, from Sector 17 in Vashi — was the most hurt, with glass piercing his shoulder.
NRI Seawoods police station’s Senior Police Inspector Rafiq Baghban said: “The DPS bus was travelling from Vashi to the school on Palm Beach Road, when the Adventist bus turned right at Karave village junction. Our investigations show that Parshi was speeding and did not take timely action to let the other bus pass.
Dr Rajesh Gavane of MGM hospital, Vashi, where the students were taken, said: “Nine students and two teachers were brought in. We treated and discharged them. None of them are critical.”
An enraged Rohit Malhotra, whose son Yash (8) is a DPS student, said: “We (parents) had asked the school not to
use these old, unsafe buses,
but no action was taken. The contractor should be severely punished. We will ask the school to cancel the bus contract.”
Santosh Shetty, a Congress corporator and the bus contractor for DPS school, said: “Our bus was speeding but not at a very high speed. It is normal for vehicles on Palm Beach to speed. The other bus driver is at fault, he suddenly came in front our bus. Our bus driver is very experienced and we follow all the norms.”
J Peter, principal of Seventh Day Adventist School, blamed the driver of the DPS bus. DPS officials refused to comment.
Transport office had blacklisted DPS bus
The Delhi Public School (DPS) contract bus involved in Friday’s accident did not have a fitness certificate, and the Regional Transport Office (RTO) had ordered it scrapped.
This bus has a history of notices issues by the RTO – as did several of the 23 buses run by Santosh Shetty, Congress corporator and the contractor for DPS’s buses.
Bharat Kalaskar, deputy regional transport officer, Navi Mumbai, said: “In January 2007, the Pen RTO had issued a notice to the contractor for this bus for not following norms.”
Kalaskar said its fitness certificate had expired on August 3, and wasn’t renewed: “On November 21, the RTO issued a notice to Shetty for that, followed by another show-cause notice on December 2.”
He added: “The bus was mechanically unfit, we had ordered it scrapped. We’ve cancelled the registration of
three buses in Navi Mumbai, including two of the same contractor.”
He said the documents of the Seventh Day Adventist School bus were in order, and that its fitness certificate is valid till next year.
The RTO will also issue a notice to DPS. “The school authorities were using the bus without having the requisite papers for it. This is negligence,” said Kalaskar.
Shetty claimed everything is in order: “The bus is only around 12 years old and certainly fit for operation. We have all the documents required.”