The state government will check all school buses for their roadworthiness and safety measures within three months. The vehicles that don't pass muster will not be allowed to ply in the coming academic session.
Home minister RR Patil declared in the legislative assembly on Wednesday that each school bus will have to undergo a thorough inspection. He was replying to a question raised by Shishir Shinde of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.
“Vehicle inspectors from the Regional Transport Office (RTO) will visit schools. They will be accompanied by police officer(s) from the local police station. The joint team will inspect the vehicle and (if satisfied) give the operator a no objection certificate (NoC). The NoC will be mandatory for schools to hire certified buses,” said Patil.
Patil said the inspection teams will ensure that drivers and conductors (attendants) with a good track record operate the buses, as “this is important for safety of the school children.”
Around 9,500 school buses ply in the state, ferrying more than 1.5 lakh students every day. There are around 900 buses in Mumbai and its suburbs.
When Shinde referred to a mishap involving a school in Vashi, and told Patil that the school did not inform the police or send the injured students to hospital, the minister said he would ascertain the reasons and issue a directive to bus operators/schools to inform the police immediately in case of any eventuality.
Several other legislators expressed concern and urged the state to strengthen the existing school bus safety policy.