In the past two days, police seized 138 vehicles that were ferrying more than 4 children each

Rickety autorickshaws bursting at the seams with schoolgoers packed like sardines is a common sight on city roads every morning. As these vehicles swerve in and out of rush-hour traffic, one can do little besides offering a silent prayer.

The Chennai Traffic Police woke up to the dangers posed by such modes of transport, and over the past two days, seized several autorickshaws used to ferry children to school. This is in the wake of the accident that claimed class II student Sruthi’s life when she slipped through a hole in the floor of her school bus.

The police seized 72 autorickshaws on Thursday and another 66 on Friday for violation of Motor Vehicles Act. “We inspected autorickshaws and school buses,” said V.A. Ravikumar, joint commissioner of police (traffic), south.

Autorickshaws carrying more than three passengers, including school children, were targeted by the police. “It is dangerous to carry more than four children in an autorickshaw. We conducted checks in different parts of the city. We have sent the seized vehicles to the transport department and requested officials to cancel their permit and licence,” said a senior traffic police officer.

The police also inspected the fitness certificate and vehicle documents of school and college buses. “We just checked if the vehicles were in good condition and if the fitness certificate was in order. Regional transport officers will carry out inspection of bigger vehicles,” an officer said.

The team from the Transport Department, including those from the flying squad, has been asked to make thorough checks of school buses and submit a report by Monday noon.

The bus belonging to Zion Matriculation Higher Secondary School which was involved in the accident on Wednesday was at least 11 years old, an official said.

Meanwhile, posters have come up all over Tambaram and other areas in the southern suburbs, expressing anguish over the incident. Various civil organisations have demanded stringent action against those responsible for Sruthi’s death.

Aanai Panneerselvam of Makkal Maamandram said the government’s knee jerk reaction of seizing vehicles and cancelling licences was typical. Accidents involving school vehicles had taken a toll on many children’s lives in the past, they said.

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