Having given a month to school van operators to fulfil all Supreme Court guidelines to ensure safety of schoolchildren, the district transport officer (DTO) is now prepared to crack the whip on violators.
According to DTO Anil Kumar Garg, the transport department would soon start a drive jointly with the traffic police and challan operators, who have failed to complete their paperwork, and impound their buses and vans.
Talking to Hindustan Times, Garg said, "I am aware that a few private school buses, auto-rickshaws and vans are still violating the Motor Vehicle Act and Supreme Court directions. Therefore, I will hold a meeting with the traffic police in the next few days and start the drive as soon as possible. We will challan the school buses, vans and auto-rickshaws, which are 15 years old and do not have permits. We have given enough time to the private operators to fulfil the guidelines."
However, he acknowledged that several school bus/van operators had got permits and bought new buses.
When an HT team visited a few private schools, it found several school buses and vans violating the Supreme Court guidelines. The buses were not painted yellow, horizontal grills were not fitted, fire extinguishers were missing and qualified attendants were unavailable in most school buses. A number of them also did not have the school name and telephone number displayed, in defiance of the apex court guidelines.
A seven-seater auto-rickshaw was found ferrying 15 students with barely any space to sit. Children were also sitting in the front with the driver. Several mini-buses were also found plying with more students than permitted.
A parent, Amita Khosla, said, "My 4-year-old son is studying in LKG. My son goes to school in bus, which does not carry the name of his school. I have seen several school buses that are not painted yellow. The authorities need to rein in all these violations."
A bus driver, Raghu Kumar, said, "I have increased the bus fee by Rs 200 per month as I have bought a new bus on loan and have to pay off the instalments. The bus, which I was driving earlier was 15 years old, so on the directions of the DTO, I decided to purchase a new bus."
Mona Singh, principal of Guru Nanak Public School, Sarabha Nagar, said, "The private bus operators at our school have increased the fee by up to Rs 100, as I have already informed the bus operators not to raise the fee by more than Rs 100. Paper work of most buses is complete and a few new buses and vans have also been purchased."
According to the Motor Vehicle Act, a vehicle that is more than 15 years old cannot run on road.
Guidelines from Supreme Court
School buses should be painted yellow.
"School Bus" must be written on the back and front of the bus. IF it is hired bus, "On School Duty" should be clearly indicated.
Buses should have a first-aid box.
They should be fitted with speed governor of specified standard
The windows should be fitted with horizontal grills
There should be a fire extinguisher in the bus
School name and telephone number must be written on the bus.
The doors of the bus should be fitted with reliable locks
There should be a space fitted under the seats to keep the school bags safely
There must be a qualified attendant in the bus to attend to children
A parent, guardian or teacher may travel along with students to ensure these safety norms :
The driver should have at least five years of experience of driving heavy vehicles
A driver who has been challaned more than twice in a year for offences like red light jumping, violation of lane discipline or allowing unauthorised person to driver cannot be employed
A driver who has been challaned even once for the offence of speeding, drunken driving and dangerous driving, etc., cannot be employed