Schoolchildren pack auto-rickshaw on their way to school at Bhadson Road in Patiala on Saturday.(Bharat Bhushan/HT)
Schoolchildren pack auto-rickshaw on their way to school at Bhadson Road in Patiala on Saturday.(Bharat Bhushan/HT)

Safe School Vahan scheme: 197 challans issued in 2019

SAFETY FIRST The scheme aims at ensuring safety of school children while following the norms of Motor Vehicle Act, 1988; district admn is responsible for its implementation
Hindustan Times, Patiala | By Harmandeep Singh, Patiala
PUBLISHED ON FEB 16, 2020 09:50 PM IST

The Longowal village incident where four children, aged between three to six, were burnt to death in a school van, has once again brought to fore the ‘lackadaisical attitude’ of the authority concerned in curbing the violations of Punjab Safe School Vahan scheme.

Last year, the authorities have issued just 197 challans to school buses and vans for violating the norms. Following the Longowal incident, parents have raised concerns over safety of their children, who commute in school vans and buses.

Hundreds of school buses, van, auto-rickshaws ferrying school children ply on the city roads on daily basis. Most of them are seen violating traffic rules and putting students’ life in danger. However, they go unchecked due to alleged “laid back attitude” of the district administration.

Residents have alleged that lack of regular checking and special drives is encouraging driver of these vehicles to break the law. “Only 197 challans in 365 days seems like barely any effort on part of the authorities to curb violations of the scheme,” a local said.

An official, pleading anonymity, said, “Most of the violators, who were issued challans last year, are auto-rickshaw drivers. And overloading is the most common violation of the scheme.”

“Of the 197 challaned, 66 were issued to auto-rickshaws and 38 to vans for overloading, 47 drivers were challaned for driving without wearing uniform, 13 were challaned for not having any attendant, 10 for not having a female attendant, five buses were challaned for not having CCTV (closed-circuit television) cameras installed and five for other violations,” the official added.

Meanwhile, 12 school buses were challaned after the official found that the buses were not painted yellow.

Chanchal Singh, a resident of Urban Estate, said, “197 is a small number for a year. Hundreds of buses and auto-rickshaws can be seen violating rules ever day and the administration finding just 197 offenders reflects poorly on their resolve to stop the violations.”

“There is need for regular checking and special drives to curb these violations,” he added.

District child protection officer Gurmeet Singh said, “Currently, we are focusing on generating awareness among residents. There is need to make people aware about the Punjab Safe School Vahan Scheme and measures to be taken for safety of children. We are organising camp at school to educate children, parents and school staff in this regard.”

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