|File picture of a school bus in Bhubaneswar
Bhubaneswar, Nov. 28: The police have slapped fines ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 on 30 buses transporting school and college students as they were operating without the mandatory licences issued by the police department.
The drive against errant vehicles began last week. Sources in the Regional Transport Office (RTO), Bhubaneswar, said that more than 850 school and college buses were plying within the city.
The Odisha Urban Police Act says that no school bus shall be used for transporting children to and from schools or other institutions without obtaining specific permission from the commissioner of police. They need to obtain a license from the city police and renew it every year.
“The drive aims at ensuring that the school buses plying within the city adhere to the norms and operate with proper license of the city police. The drive will continue in the city,” said assistant commissioner of police (traffic), Bhubaneswar, Binod Das.
Along with documents related to the permission from the commissioner of police, the cops are also checking the licenses of the bus drivers and the fitness certificates of the vehicles.
The police officials are ascertaining whether the buses adhere to the norms set by the Supreme Court.
According to the Supreme Court’s guideline the school buses need to have an emergency door, symbol of the institutes, first-aid box, window grills and fire extinguishers.
During on the ongoing drive while most of these vehicles were found without emergency doors, some did not have fire extinguishers and first-aid boxes.
In July, the RTO officials had undertaken a similar drive to penalise school buses flouting norms. The officials had imposed fines on more than 50 buses.
On July 18, a LPG-fuelled van carrying three school children in Cuttack caught fire. Although no one was hurt, the incident was a grim reminder that vehicles carrying school children were not following the norms laid down by the apex court. The children, who spotted the fire near the fuel tank, jumped out just in time but the school bag of one of them was gutted in the mishap. All three, aged between four and nine years, were students of Kendriya Vidyalaya No. 2 at Press Chhak in Cuttack.
“The authorities must ensure that all the school buses adhere to the norms. Often the officials conduct such drives for a short period, which fails to ensure the safety of the school going kids. Such drives must be carried out regularly,” said Harish Mohanty, a parent.