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Updated: June 28, 2012 03:26 IST

Private vehicles will need permit to transport schoolchildren

Anil Kumar Sastry
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Transport Department comes out with a set of regulations on school cabs

Concerned over the safety of schoolchildren who often travel in private vehicles, the Transport Department has come out with a set of regulations on school cabs.

The tag ‘school bus/cab’ hitherto limited to vehicles owned by heads of institutions in their official capacity, will now be extended to privately owned vehicles too, which will have to obtain permits under the new rules. Cars and mini-vans will also be governed by these rules.

The rules come in the wake of complaints against private vehicles ferrying children under dangerous conditions — some make children sit on makeshift seats kept on LPG tanks, some sit on the vehicle floor, etc.

Drive

About two years ago, the Transport Department launched a drive against such unsafe practices, and the then Transport Commissioner, Bhaskar Rao, conceptualised this new policy.

Transport and Road Safety Commissioner T. Sham Bhatt told The Hindu that the draft notification was published on June 16.

After the final notification in a month’s time, the department will launch a fresh drive to curb illegal operations of private vehicles.

“We are offering an opportunity to existing cabs as well as new ones to avail themselves of the benefits that come with the tag,” he said.

The draft, however, does not mention road tax to be paid by new cabs. Vehicles owned by schools are eligible for extremely low rates of tax: at the most Rs. 2,500 a year for a bus with seating capacity of 50.

G.S. Satish, proprietor of Deccan Cabs which operates a small fleet of buses to colleges, said school vehicle tax rates should be applicable to individual-owned vehicles too. Also, a ‘school cab’, by definition, should include bigger vehicles with higher seating capacity to encourage entrepreneurs, he said.

Rule welcome

Welcoming the draft rules, B. Gayethri Devi, Principal of Little Flower School, Banashankari 3rd Stage, and secretary of the Karnataka ICSE Schools’ Association, said she, in fact, wanted more stringent rules or even a complete ban on cabs.

“The unsafe travel conditions are mainly due to parents’ lackadaisical attitude of not receiving their children from designated school bus-stops and their love for door-to-door service. Cab drivers give little attention to children’s safety even as they drive at breakneck speed,” Ms. Devi told The Hindu.

L. Hemanth Kumar, Joint Commissioner for Transport, said besides ensuring safety of children, the new scheme would be advantageous for individual vehicle owners as well.

They would have to compulsorily get comprehensive insurance cover which would help in cases of emergencies. Also, individuals would be able to avail themselves of loans from banks to buy new vehicles (yellow board), he noted.

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