Only buses for transporting school kids; policy on anvil

Bhubaneswar: Taking a strong note of rising accidents involving children during their commute to schools, the State government is mulling a policy to make ‘Bus’ as the mandatory mode of transportation of school children. The policy aims to curb transportation of school children in auto rickshaws and other mini vehicles. According to sources, the policy prepared by the Transport department has been sent to the State government for approval.

Notably, on September 29, a school child died while nine other children were critically injured in an accident involving an auto rickshaw carrying them and a bus in Satamile area of Hindol in Dhenkanal. On October 1, nine school children were injured when an auto-rickshaw in which they were travelling, overturned near Pantha Nivas in Sector-V area in Rourkela.

With frequent occurrences of such mishaps, the government’s new policy aims to make vehicles with a seating capacity of 40 eligible as school bus. The approval of the local RTO has been made mandatory. Moreover, all the essential equipments and services for the safety of school children have to be mandatorily installed in the vehicle. All the windows of the vehicle used for carrying the school children should have to be curtained with iron mesh.

In a bid to further strengthen the new mechanism, meetings between the RTO, Police, School officials and parents will be held four times a month.

“There are several guidelines relating to the like seating capacity, safety features and valid registration of vehicles meant to be used for carrying school children that have been laid out in the new policy. We have sent the policy to the government for approval, after which it will be implemented,” said Chandrasekhar Kumar, Transport commissioner.

“It is a very welcome step. However it has to be ensured that these vehicles should be able to access the nooks and corners of the city, said a guardian.

The fitness of each school bus will be regularly checked by the RTO officials and in case of any violation of the above guidelines, strict action will be initiated against school authorities, the policy says.