Several primary and pre-primary students of Delhi Public School Newtown were injured when a mini-truck collided with their school bus on Jessore Road on Thursday afternoon.
The bus — assigned to route number 13 — was headed towards Madhyamgram with at least 25 students on board.
The collision occurred when the mini-truck approaching from the opposite direction took a sudden U-turn near the Birati end of the Belghoria Expressway around 1pm.
Trucks and buses intending to take Belghoria Expressway climb medians or take U-turns through small gaps along the road since the entry ramp of the high-speed corridor is closed at the Birati-end. The illegal turns trigger traffic chaos and regular accidents.
Witnesses to Thursday’s accident said the bus was moving at a moderate speed. But the impact was such that most of the children on the bus were thrown off their seats. Some of them banged their heads against the windows and seat bars.
“My daughter came home with bruises on her forehead and knees. She said her head slammed against the frame of the seat in front,” the mother of an Upper KG student said.
A Class I boy seated next to her had a bump on the side of his head.
The bus was ferrying 40 children to their homes after school gave over at 12.30pm.
The stretch of Jessore Road where the accident occurred is notorious for rash driving and almost no policing. A couple of constables or civic police volunteers are sometimes deployed in the heavy-traffic zone, making little difference to road enforcement.
The civic police volunteers do not have the authority to book offenders, which allows cars, two-wheelers and trucks to move into wrong lanes and take U-turns at will.
The volunteers and constables from a nearby police kiosk caught the truck driver involved in Thursday’s accident but he was let off with a mild warning.
The school authorities said the bus had a teacher escorting the kids and everyone reached home. “We have asked the bus service provider to lodge a complaint with the police,” principal Sonali Sen told Metro.
A senior officer at the Bidhannagar police commissionerate said no case was filed because the school authorities did not lodge a complaint.
Sources said the civic police volunteers had asked the bus driver if he wanted to lodge a complaint against the trucker. The driver apparently said “no” and the incident was considered “amicably settled”.
“We don’t have enough men to manage traffic in the entire area under our jurisdiction. We are forced to hire volunteers on annual contract,” a police officer said.
The volunteers on traffic duty say they don’t have the expertise and authority to handle accident cases and other violations.
Three youths riding a motorbike sustained injuries after the two-wheeler skidded off the road on Rajarhat Expressway early on Thursday.
Police said the youths were possibly racing with another motorbike when the accident took place. The trio was taken to Bidhannagar Sub-divisional Hospital. Later they were shifted to a private hospital.