UP government ready with rules on school vans for first time

School Kids’ Safety: The move comes almost three months after a van crashed into a train in Kushinagar, killing over a dozen children.

lucknow Updated: Jul 18, 2018 12:54 IST
Brajendra K Parashar
Brajendra K Parashar
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
UP government,Uttar Pradesh,School vans
The transport department is said to have no legal mechanism at present to monitor school vehicles.(HT File Photo)

The state government will bring school vans under a legal regulatory framework for the first time, expanding the scope of the Supreme Court’s two decades old guidelines that were largely applicable to school-owned buses.

The move comes almost three months after over a dozen children died when their van crashed into a speeding train in Kushinagar.

The government is now ready with elaborate rules to regulate all types of vehicles, and not just buses, engaged in ferrying schoolchildren.

The transport department is said to have no legal mechanism at present to monitor such vehicles.

“We have made rules to regulate school vehicles with a view to ensuring safety of children,” transport commissioner P Guruprasad said.

“The rules will come into effect after they are notified by the government,” he said.

He said principal secretary, transport, Aradhana Shukla had called a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the issue.

The rules seek to bring all the three categories of school vehicles under a well-defined legal regulatory mechanism.

They are buses owned and operated by schools, buses owned by private operators and ferrying children as an agreement between parents and bus owners and the third category is of vehicles like vans, omnibuses and tempos.

“It is basically the third category of vehicles that we at present have no record about. Now, all such vehicles will be under our watch once the rules became effective,” Guruprasad said.

The rules provide for the constitution of district level committees under the district magistrates and school-level committees under the school principals.

The school-level committees will comprise, among others, parents, transporters, police inspectors of the concerning areas and transport officials.

“The school-level committees will approve operation of school vehicles, ensuring the vehicles have all the specified safety features and are road-worthy. The district-level committees headed by DMs will regularly monitor school vehicles and take action accordingly,” Guruprasad explained.

Besides, the rules seek to put a ban on ferrying children in vehicles with an open body, such as Tata Magic, tempos and the like and also prescribe a dress code for drivers—khaki for drivers of buses and gray for drivers of other vehicles.

The rules fix the limit to the number of children that a vehicle can carry. It is proposed to be one-and a half times the seating capacity of a vehicle in case of small children. This means, a vehicle with the seating capacity of eight passengers will be allowed to transport a maximum of 12 children.

The apex court issued detailed guidelines for school buses in 1997. They stated that all school buses must have first aid boxes, fire extinguishers, parallel bars fitted in windows and school bag grills fitted under the seats, among other things.

According to Guruprasad, the apex court’s guidelines too had been codified in the form of rules now. “So far, the court’s guidelines were being enforced through an administrative order and the guidelines were confined to buses only. But we will soon have a well-defined legal regulatory frame work to regulate school vehicles of all categories,” he said.

First Published: Jul 18, 2018 12:54 IST