The Karnataka Transport Department is likely to extend till June 1 the time to install emergency exit doors for buses being operated by road transport corporations of neighbouring States following requests from the RTCs.
Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy told The Hindu that the managing director of Andhra Pradesh Transport Corporation spoke to him recently and sought more time for installing emergency exit doors, the deadline of which was April 30. “The officer explained difficulties in adhering to the deadline and we have agreed to extend it,” Mr. Reddy said.
Similar requests had come from RTCs of Tamil Nadu and Kerala and the department would consider them, Mr. Reddy said.
However, in no case there would be any exemption from the rule and every operator had to adhere to it. At the same time, no extension of time would be granted to private operators since sufficient time was given to them, the Minister said. Mr. Reddy hoped that other States too would soon follow suit in enforcing compulsory emergency exit doors in the interest of passengers.
State Transport Commissioner K. Amaranarayana told The Hindu that he had received representations from RTCs of neighbouring States seeking extension of the deadline. They were being considered and extension was likely to be granted, he said.The department seized 210 buses run by private operators for not installing emergency exit doors, said Additional Commissioner of Transport (Enforcement-South) R. Muniveere Gowda. The vehicles were released after obtaining undertakings from the owners that they would operate the buses only after installing the emergency exit doors and retaining original records of the vehicles till such time the owners complied with the rule.
Emergency exit doors for buses were made mandatory after 45 people were charred to death when a Volvo bus, run by a Bangalore-based private operator, caught fire near Mahbubnagar in Andhra Pradesh on October 30, 2013. Seven people died in a similar accident near Haveri on November 14, 2013. It was not that the rule was non-existent.
The department had relaxed the rule saying that emergency ‘exits’ were sufficient on the request of Volvo Buses India, which manufactures monocoque air-conditioned buses. Emergency exit doors were made mandatory after 10 people were killed in an accident between two KSRTC buses — one Volvo and another ordinary — on October 13, 2008 near Kolar.
The then Transport Commissioner Bhaskar Rao issued two circulars, one in October 2008 and another in July 2010, making emergency exit doors that could easily be accessed by people of average height from outside the bus mandatory. Thus, Volvo had to install the third door since its emergency exit windows were not easily accessible from outside. These circulars were, however, rescinded by Mr. Rao’s successor on August 16, 2011.