Risky rides to school: Take onus of child safety, DC tells principals

  • Usmeet Kaur, Hindustan Times, Amritsar
  • Updated: Apr 01, 2016 11:53 IST
School principals during a meeting with DC Varun Roojam in Amritsar on Thursday. (HT Photo)

As schoolchildren continue to travel in worn-out overloaded buses, Amritsar deputy commissioner (DC) Varun Roojam on Thursday took a tough stance and told the school heads that they will be responsible for any sort of mishap with children.

The DC made it clear that the school managements would have no choice than following the directives and the one who does not abide by it, action would be taken.

In a meeting called at local Bhachat Bhawan, Amritsar DC, district transport officer Lovejeet Kalsi, SDM Rohit Gupta interacted with the school principals and representatives and told that the administration has had enough and schools can no more run away from their responsibility.

It is not the first time that this issue has been addressed by the district administration and a lot of time has been given to the van contractors and the school managements. But this time they seem to be in no mood to give the contractors and the school managements more time to play the blame game which is on since long.

District transport officer (DTO) Kalsi has earlier also impounded many school vans who did not fulfill the safety norms and had tightened the noose around them. Reacting to the action being taken the school van operators had gone off road in protest against the DTO. The strike had caused a lot of inconvenience.

Calling it a serious concern Kalsi said, “It is the school that is responsible for the safety of the child and the operation of buses/vans and thus they need to ensure that children travel in safe transports which are following directives of the high court for safe school vahan scheme (SSVS) and drives carry apt documents. If a few school heads can do a compliance with them and get 80 to 90% vans under the directives even other needs to follow.” She also showed disappointment saying that despite she has done a lot of work on this issue things are in quite a bad shape.

While a few school heads questioned her and the SDM that why is the school held responsible alone, it is also the parents who to save a few hundred rupees are opting for reasonable transports and making links with contractors and do not want schools to intervene.

But the DC was in no mood to address any more blame game and asserted, “A child safety and abiding to the directives is a priority now and thus school owes a direct responsibility. If the high court wants it to be implemented, we all have to and we do not have a choice. School heads have to sit with contractors and make compliance as it would be the school which would be held responsible for any mishap. Now we expect a proactive approach from the school managements and laxity won’t be tolerated. A final inspection is on cards and then report would be submitted to the court.”

While a few school heads questioned the DC that was it a genuine responsibility being put on them? As this issue has many other aspects which needs to be resolved by the administration also.

While a few school heads highlighted that parents from lower income groups are not in a position to pay high van fees and thus they are compromising on the safety norms. In return the contractors crib that with minimal money they aren’t able to put in the features which are asked under the SSVS. Then to keep women attendants is a big issue as they aren’t available. Many school heads asked for allowing small size vans.

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