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Cramming takes place outside the classroom too

Special Correspondent
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Many children are ferried in rickety vehicles converted into school vans after squeezing in extra seats

Monday’s horrific accident in which three boys of Jnana Sweekar Public School were injured — one seriously and continues to be in critical condition — after their van slammed into a lorry has again exposed the highly unsafe conditions in which students are ferried to schools and back.

A good many cab operators convert old Maruti Omnis into school vans after squeezing in extra seats (often wooden planks) inside the vehicle so as to cram as many children as possible.

Multiple risks

Travel by these vans exposes children to multiple risks, right from safety aspect of these rickety vehicles to insurance coverage in cases of accidents. As such casually converted vehicles are not supposed to run commercially, victims of accidents are not eligible for insurance coverage.

Draft rules

The former Transport Commissioner Bhaskar Rao had launched a drive against unauthorised operation of these cabs and initiated the process of framing special rules. T. Sham Bhatt, the officer who succeeded him, brought out the draft rules governing these vehicles in June this year.

Among other things, the rules clearly stipulate that schoolchildren should not be ferried in private (white board) vehicles and that every operator should get the vehicle converted into a taxi (yellow board).

Final notification

Transport and Road Safety Commissioner K.R. Srinivasa told The Hindu that the department had just formalised the final notification which was likely to be published in the gazette shortly.

Asked about the delay in finalising the rules, Mr. Srinivasa said receiving objections and scrutinising them took some time.

One of the suggestions incorporated was to include parents and cab owners in the safety committee to be constituted at every school, according to Mr. Srinivasa.

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