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State: Won’t give permits to autos to ply school kids

By Kanchan Chaudhari, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON NOV 26, 2019 12:55 AM IST

Permits will not be granted to autorickshaws to ply students to and from school, the government assured the Bombay high court (HC) on Monday, adding that a special drive will be undertaken to stop three-wheelers from ferrying schoolchildren.

The state was responding to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by PTA United Forum, which works for safe transportation of school children. In the PIL, the forum pointed out that in Maharashtra, smaller vehicles are allowed to ferry children to and from schools, which is unsafe.

Advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni informed the division bench of justice SC Dharmadhikari and justice RI Chagla that although Maharashtra rules permit three-wheelers like auto-rickshaws to ply as school transport vehicles, the government has not granted any permit so far and will not do so in the future. He also stated that the road transport department has started a special drive to stop autorickshaws ferrying schoolchildren. The drive will continue till December 10, he said, adding that such drives will be undertaken intermittently to ensure safe transportation of children.

In 2011, the state government framed rules laying down guidelines for safe transportation of school children. The rules provide duties of the bus conductor and attendants, and also list safety measures like compulsory women attendants for buses ferrying girl students.

The petitioner body complained that while smaller vehicles like minivans are granted permits to transport students, they do not adhere to safety norms. The bench agreed with the apprehensions expressed by the petitioner body and said that transporting children by small, unsafe vehicles like auto-rickshaws, was highly risky. The judges also expressed displeasure over the fact that many parents who drop their children to school on motorcycles and scooters do not provide protection in the form of helmets for the minors.

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