In these times of sharp scrutiny on school systems and infrastructural support that institutions are offering its children, these pictures speak a thousand words. Based on a tip-off about a number of unlicenced school vans operating in the city, Mirror tracked down a couple on Friday at Symbiosis School, on Prabhat Road, as kids were filing out in the afternoon, after the school had given over.
While one of the vehicles had no registration number, the other bore a make believe plate with a fictitious number hastily scribbled in red. Each van carries at least 10-12 kids.
According to sources, the vehicles have been seen on the road for over six months — escaping scrutiny of both school and traffic police.
Law deems that carrying school children in unregistered vehicles is not only illegal but in case of a mishap, none of the occupants will be eligible for compensation. Apart from the two vans tracked down by Mirror, according to sources there are at least another six such vehicles that operate for schools in and around Deccan.
When we brought the issue to the notice of deputy regional transport officer Anil Valiv, he said, “There is a possibility that these are new vehicles and before getting registered with the RTO, they might have started plying school children. However, this is an illegal method. If the van meets with an accident, the children will not get any compensation.”
After a series of mishaps involving school buses, the state government came up with a resolution in 2011 specifying the school transport safety norms for vehicles carrying school children, for safe travel. The resolutions mandate school authorities to have a contract with transporters, with details of these vehicles maintained. Interestingly, on Friday afternoon after spending some time on campus, we observed that none of the security guards or any school authority made any effort to stop the vans.
When confronted with the issue, Vidya Yeravdekar, principal director of Symbiosis Society, averred that while the institution is strict about the safety of children in school buses, with regular checks on documents and records of transporters, so far checking vehicle registration has not been included in the safety norms. “However, if there are vehicles plying without registration number, we will not only take action against the vehicle owners but we will also include the mandatory vehicle registration in our safety norms,” said Yeravdekar.
On learning about this practice, the school board has decided to send notices to schools that have let such wrongdoers escape the net. School board president Pradip Dhumal said, “I will send a notice to the concerned schools on Monday, asking them to take immediate action against the drivers and then fulfill the necessary requirements.”
These vans carry children on busy thoroughfares such as Law College Road, Karve Road and Paud Road and yet, curiously, they have not been sighted by traffic cops deputed in these areas. Deputy commissioner of police (Traffic) Sarang Awad, put the onus on the respective schools and RTO, underlining their responsibilities towards the children who are using this transport system. “But if these transporters are going about their business without registration, I will ask my staff to take action against them,” said Awad.
Source: Punemirror, 28’March