Only four schools of the 700 within the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) limits have formed the school transport committee which is mandatory under the Maharashtra Motor Vehicles (School Bus Regulation) Act, 2011. The law came into force on June 1, this year.
According to the PMC education board officials, schools have consistently ignored the school bus policy guidelines, despite two reminders from the board. The first reminder was sent in June, followed by a meeting with school principals on June 30. Another reminder was sent on July 29.
Deputy education officer of the PMC board Sambhaji Jadhav told TOI on Friday that the board has been assigned the responsibility to inform every school in the city limits about the act. We have sent the rules and regulations to 700 schools in the civic limits. A notification on forming the school transport committee was also sent in June along with the guidelines. However, the response from the schools is very poor. Only four schools have formed the committee.
These are Madarassa-E-Islamiya Urdu Primary School, Mubarak Girls High School, both in Kasba Peth, Vidya Niketan in Ganesh Peth and Madhavrao Sonba Tupe Primary School in Hadapsar.
The deadline to form the transport committee and inform the PMC Board was set for August 2. We will send another reminder to the schools next week, said Jadhav.
The law governs both buses owned and run by the school and those run by private owners. A school bus, according to the guidelines, is a contract carriage vehicle which is designed and constructed specially for schools, college and other educational institutions and includes four-wheeler, light-motor vehicle.
One of the norms to ensure safety of school children travelling in buses states that in an emergency, the school bus driver and the attendant should inform the school authorities about the incident and make necessary arrangements for the safe travel of the students.
On Monday, as many as 35 students of Rosary School in Vimannagar did not reach home well after the school had closed at 3 pm. The school bus ferrying them ran out of diesel and the driver went off to sleep after parking the vehicle in a housing society.
Worried parents who called up the school seeking the bus drivers telephone number did not get a response from the management. They launched a search and found the bus in a society. The school authorities maintained that the bus did not belong to the school. Since it was a private bus ferrying their school children, they did not have the drivers contact number.
However, the guidelines stipulate that the school transport committee should maintain a list of the drivers numbers.
The Regional Transport Office is the nodal authority which will monitor the setting up these committees. Arun Yeola, regional transport officer, has clarified that every school that has the state government approval to function within the state has to follow all the rules. As per the guidelines of the Maharashtra Motor Vehicles (School Bus Regulation) Act 2011, it is mandatory for every school to form a transport committee chaired by the principal.
Balan, senior administrator of Rosary School, Vimannagar, on Thursday, had said that the school had not felt the need to form the school transport committee as it has not contracted the buses. Parents have arranged the buses on their own to ferry children to the school. So there was no need for the committee, he had added.
Yeola, however, said that In Rosarys case, even if they do not run the school bus contract system, having a committee in place is mandatory as per the guidelines.
Indrani Malkani, member of the committee formed by the state government to form the school bus regulation. Said, I’m deeply upset that schools are showing such a lackadaisical attitude towards the safety of school children. It is the responsibility of the education board to pursue the matter with the schools and get the committees formed. Also, the schools are expected to have a contract bus system under the policy. Parents are not supposed to deploy buses.
MUST-HAVES FOR BUSES
The school transport committee should look into matters pertaining to safe transportation, transportation fees, identification of bus stops and verification of documents of the vehicle like registration certificate, certificate of fitness, insurance, permit, pollution under control certificate, driving licence, fire extinguisher and first-aid kit.
Each committee, to be headed by the school principal, will have a parents representative, local traffic and education inspector, bus operator and a member of the local civic body.
The school transport vehicle shall carry a complete list of the school children showing the name, class, residential address, contact phone number or cell phone number, blood group and the bus stops for his or her embarkation and disembarkation near his or her residence against his or her name. The list shall also indicate the route plan duly attested by the head of the educational institution showing the place of origin, termination and detailed route it has to follow
The delay in forming transport committees in schools is surprising, especially when these panels were intended to make the daily commute of students safer. The governments guidelines came into effect on June 1 and are mandatory. But only four of the 700 schools in PMC limits have complied so far, and the deadline ended over three weeks ago. The regional transport office and the civic body’s education board must ensure that the norms are implemented. While schools should take the initiative to form the committees, Parent-Teacher Associations also have to be proactive. This is too important an issue to brook tardiness.
Courtesy: Times of India