Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Sep 2:
With educational institutions constantly floating norms while transporting school and college students, the Transport department of Odisha government has directed all the regional transport officers (RTOs) to crack down on those violating the Supreme Court guidelines on plying of school and college buses.
“It is noticed that students are being carried in vans and other small wheeled vehicles without adhering to safety measures as per the direction of Supreme Court, which were reiterated in the instructions issued by government and by this office,” said a letter written by the Transport Commissioner, State Transport Authority, to the RTOs.
The letter directs RTOs to check school buses, vans and other public service vehicles carrying school and college students regularly to ensure that the guidelines of the apex court are observed in letter and spirit.
The Supreme Court had set specific guidelines for plying of school buses which included fitting of horizontal grills on windows of the vehicles.
As per the guidelines, all such vehicles must have a first-aid box and the doors of the bus should be fitted with reliable locks. There must be an attendant from the school in the bus.
The speed of the vehicles has been fixed at 40 KM per hour. A driver in violation of the speed limit will first be issued notices while a second time offence would attract cancellation of the driving licence.
After a petition was filed by Fahima Banu in June 2012, following the death of her son Mohammed Faisal, who was knocked down by his school bus, the Supreme Court, on January 12, had asked State governments to implement the guidelines for the transport of schoolchildren.
It has directed that every school that uses a cab must have a safety committee, comprising parents, transport representatives, and school staff to look into matters related to the safety of children.
The SC guidelines on school buses are as follows:
· School buses should be painted yellow
· “School bus” must be written on the back and front of the bus. If it is a hired bus, “On school duty” should be clearly indicated.
· The bus should have a first-aid box
· The bus should be fitted with a speed governor of a specified standard.
· The windows of the bus should be fitted with horizontal grills.
· There should be a fire extinguisher in the bus.
· The school name and telephone number must be written on the bus.
· The doors of the bus should be fitted with reliable locks.
· To keep the school bags safely, there should be a space fitted under the seats.
· There must be a qualified attendant in the bus to attend to children.
· Any parent/guardian or a teacher may also travel in the bust to ensure these safety norms.
· The driver should have at least 5 years’ experience of driving heavy vehicles.
· A driver who has been challaned more than twice in a year for offences like red light jumping, violation of lane discipline or allowing an unauthorised person to drive cannot be employed.
· A driver who has been challaned even once for the offence of overspeeding, drunken driving and dangerous driving, etc., cannot be employed.
· As per Section 2(47) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, an educational institution bus is a transport vehicle and therefore requires a permit to ply on the road. Being a transport vehicle, it would also need to undergo mandatory fitness test every year, without which the permit cannot be renewed.