The Federation of the Tamil Nadu Private Schools’ Associations has appealed to the State government to revoke the Tamil Nadu Motor Vehicles (Regulation and Control of School Buses) Special Rules 2012 and reframe it in consultation with the school managements.
In a representation sent to the government, the Federation has stated that certain rules would not only inconvenience the students but would also paralyse the transport services of the schools.
For instance, the private schools do not see any link between the renewal of school recognition and issuance of fitness certificate for the school vehicles. The new rules stipulate that until the schools concerned get their recognition renewed the fitness certificates for their vehicles should not be issued.
The Federation is of the view that usually the renewal would come about with retrospective effect. Therefore, there is no valid reason for linking the two.
The size of the emergency exit too draws flak from the Federation. It has stated that as per the new rules the school vehicles should have an emergency exit of the size 150 cm x 120 cm, either on the right rear of the vehicle or in the rear window screen.
It notes that even the emergency exit in a railway coach is only 60 cm x 60 cm and the one in an aeroplane too is lesser than the stipulated size for the school buses. The proposed emergency exit (18,000 sq.cm) would be even bigger than the entry and exit point (14,400 cm) of the school bus.
Moreover, the latches for the emergency exit should be fixed both inside and outside. If the latch accidentally opens up there is a possibility of all the students sitting in the rear row having a free fall.
Further, such an exit would affect the shell of the bus and affect the stability of the vehicle. To ensure speed limit — 40 kmph in urban areas and 50 kmph in rural areas — the government has directed installation of speed governors.
The Federation has called for cancelling this provision as already Madras High Court has banned the installation of speed governor. The specified height of the footboard — 125 mm to 130 mm from the ground level — would not be practicable given the road condition in the rural areas, and the number of speed breakers on the main thoroughfares the footboard, fixed at such a low level, would get damaged.
The commission has observed that the instruction to engage attendants with conductor licence in school buses is impracticable for the obvious reason that those with conductor qualification would not be inclined to do the job of a helper (who assists students to embark and disembark, clean the vehicles).