One can easily spot overloaded auto rickshaws ferrying students up to 400% in excess than sanctioned sitting capacity in Jalandhar city even if it means "compromising" with their safety or violating the Punjab and Haryana high court orders.
The transport, police and education department authorities are yet to come out of slumber to effectively check illegal plying of these auto rickshaws putting students' safety at high risk. Parents too share the blame by not making proper transport arrangements for their wards journey to the school.
The Hindustan Times team, during a survey of city schools on Friday, spotted an auto rickshaw ferrying 14 students of Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV), Suranussi on Jalandhar-Amritsar road. All of a sudden, driver Bablu stopped vehicle nearly 100 metres away from the school after noticing HT lensman Pardeep Pandit trying to capture the scene.
Then, he reversed the vehicle, took the students on other side of the main road and left them before fleeing from the scene.
Satnam Singh, a Class 7 student, somehow made students (aged 5 to 12 years) cross the busy road. The "irresponsible" behaviour of the driver had put life and safety of the students at risk, as they have to walk on the high traffic main road without any safety parameter.
Another auto rickshaw (PB08BJ5110) landed at KV carrying 14 students while its driver maintained that he was not aware about safety norms prescribed by the state government or the court.
Thereafter, several such overloaded vehicles reached the school, dropping students outside the premises. The norm, otherwise, is to drop students inside the schools' boundary wall.
The scene was no different at Seth Hukam Chand SD Public Senior Secondary School in New Prem Nagar. Labh Singh, driver, preferred to ferry 13 students, though tightly packed, in his auto rickshaw (PB08AX9905). "They are seven and comfortably positioned. There is no safety risk. I don't know about court orders to get vehicle painted in yellow colour," he openly lied when confronted with query on kids' safety.
Harjinder Singh too was seen transporting 16 students in his auto rickshaw (PB08AR1258). Majority of these auto-rickshaws were overloaded, while students were seen being dropped outside the school since such vehicles are not allowed to enter the premises in the mornings.
The scene at Shiv Jyoti Public School in Deen Dyal Upadhyaya Nagar was also not different. Auto rickshaw (PB08AN5805) was overloaded with 15 students as it reached outside the school.
Several such rickshaws dropped students on the busy lane without caring for their safety. "As my friend had gone to his native village for a month, he asked me to drop these students at school till he returns. I don't know about road safety norms, as I usually do not drive such vehicles," Ram Parsad (PB06F2142) said. He was ferrying nine students as against capacity of three.
Interestingly, none of such rickshaws were yellow painted despite high court's orders. The fitness certificate, first aid kit, renewed registration certificate, drivers in uniform - almost all the state government direction were being violated with impunity while authorities concerned were nowhere in the scene to get the norms implemented.