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Private schools ground buses decrying tight norms

Special Correspondent
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Onus placed on parents for the attendance of their wards; a few new norms are difficult to implement: managements

resting time:Buses of private schools remained off roads in Thanjavur on Monday.Photo:B.Velankanni Raj
resting time:Buses of private schools remained off roads in Thanjavur on Monday.Photo:B.Velankanni Raj

: Nearly 150 private schools in Tiruchi, Perambalur and Ariyalur districts did not operate their buses on Monday opposing some "impractical" norms introduced by the transport department. 

The protest was in deference to a decision taken earlier this month by the Federation of Tamil Nadu Private Schools Association to convey the collective displeasure of the managements to the State government over the new rules.

The department had come out with its set of new rules under instructions from the State government in the wake of a series of accidents involving school buses in deplorable conditions.

In one of the accidents near Chennai, the death of a school girl who was caught under the wheels after the floor of the bus gave away sparked public outrage.

Following the incident, the transport department and district administrations convened meetings of school managements to set right the perceived shortcomings due to lack of proper guidance - the idea of maintenance of buses is usually confined to the limited knowledge of the bus crew in a majority of cases. Interactions with the authorities helped the managements realise their responsibilities.

However, the managements by and large opine that a few of the new norms are difficult to implement.

For instance, they question the rationale behind the requirement that the height of footboard must be less than one foot from the ground. Their reasoning is that compliance with the rule could turn dangerous due to the poor condition of roads.

Likewise, the stipulation that the rear emergency exit must be larger would make the buses less sturdy, a school correspondent explained. 

A majority of private CBSE schools plied their buses as usual as the information about the protest did not reach them on time. “We could not inform parents beforehand. Otherwise we too would have expressed solidarity with the matric schools,” a principal of a CBSC school in the city said. 

But private schools functioned as usual. Parents were seen in larger numbers in private schools to drop and pick their children up. Parents felt strict adherence to the guidelines in issuing fitness certificates will in itself address safety concerns. 

There was less than normal attendance in almost all private schools. The schools had placed the onus on parents for the attendance of their wards. 

According to Inspector of Matriculation Schools P.Mathivanan all 149 schools - 111 in Tiruchi, 17 in Ariyalur and 21 in Perambalur district - functioned as usual. 

The schools have been informed that closure of schools citing the conveyance factor will not be accepted, he said.

Thanjavur

Private school buses were not operated in Thanjavur and Tiruvarur districts on Monday to protest the new guidelines put forth by the government for operating buses.

As school buses were not operated, parents took their wards to the schools in their vehicles. Panneerselvam, district president of Thanjavur District Private Matriculation and Matriculation higher Secondary Schools Assocaition, and Sivanandam, taluk president of the association, said many of the rules were not practical.

The rules stipulate that buses should be subjected to get fitness certificate four times a year, which they said was impractical.

There are nearly 20 schools in Thanjavur town and nearly 50 buses are operated.

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