Govt. cracks down on school buses without permits

The State government told the Bombay High Court on Tuesday that it has started a special drive on June 17 to identify school buses plying without due permits. The drive will go on till July 12,

A Division Bench of Justices Naresh Patil and Girish Kulkarni was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Parents Teachers Associations United Forum in 2016, according to which BEST buses exclusively ferrying schoolchildren have been violating safety norms.

The petition says that transport authorities have been granting permits to vans without insisting on an agreement between the school and the operator, which prevents school authorities from exercising control over the vans. It also stated that drivers of such vehicles often do not have the required minimum experience. The petition also pointed out that a Government of India notification dated September 8, 2016, had laid out that the minimum seating capacity of vehicles carrying schoolchildren should be no less than 13, excluding the driver. Small vans have been violating this notification.

The forum contends that there is no proper implementation of the Common Standard Agreement, which is entered into by the school authorities and PTA on one hand and the owners of the vehicles on the other. The court has asked the State to submit a report on the drive by July 17 and to sensitise parents so they do not send children in buses that do not meet basic regulations.

The deputy transport commissioner filed an affidavit that said there are 11,922 vehicles with seating capacity less than 12+1 registered as school buses in the State. Of these, 8,591 have been contracted by the school authority. He said authorities are taking action against vehicles violating the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act.

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