New Delhi, Oct. 29: One reason that passenger casualties are high in Indian bus accidents is the poorly made bus bodies, most of them assembled by just any mechanic or roadside workshop in what remains an unregulated sector.
Now, the road transport ministry has laid down that anyone who builds bus bodies must get accreditation certificates from government testing agencies and comply with a set of norms. The rules have been notified and will come into force from December 31.
“We have seen that almost in every big city or town, a host of mechanics-turned-entrepreneurs assemble buses of all sizes and shapes. They obviously come cheap because of their jugaad (rough and ready) techniques, and so they are popular,” a ministry official said.
“Till now, we had no rules to tackle these people,” he added. The result is that many private and government buses and even ambulances are rickety structures without any quality checks.
The ministry woke up to the need to regulate the industry because of the heavy passenger tolls in bus accidents, the official said. “Especially in remote towns, the quality of buses is very bad, leading to a high number of casualties,” he said.
Under the newly framed rules, no bus body manufacturer will be allowed to function without accreditation. Small workshops or roadside mechanics cannot get the accreditation since the first eligibility criterion is that the builder’s unit should span at least 1,000sqm.
Every builder must furnish “details of installed production capacity, production track record as well as future production plans”. He must provide information on the available land area (covered and uncovered), manpower and machinery and specify the type of bus bodies he would build.
The accreditation agency will conduct a surveillance audit of each accredited bus body builder every three years to see if all the norms are being followed. If lapses are discovered, the manufacturer will be given six months to correct them.
The ministry official said the next step would be to tighten the regulations on automakers relating to bus design and quality.