The badly fitted wooden seats in the van that illegally ferried schoolchildren. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta
A Maruti Omni ferrying schoolchildren was stopped by some Car Pool Operators’ Association members on Monday after it was found to be plying illegally, risking the lives of the students.
The members said the car, being illegally run on a cooking gas cylinder, did not have valid papers. Its seats were not safe and the brakes were not working properly. Owner Anindya Ghosh, who was at the wheel, is not an association member.
The car, stopped in front of The Future Foundation School, in Regent Park, has been seized and the owner detained.
“We are contacting the motor vehicles department for details of the vehicle,” said South 24-Parganas police superintendent Praveen Kumar.
LPG vehicles have fixed cylinders. “Running a car on a movable cooking gas cylinder can lead to a blast,” said an automobile expert.
After getting the van seized, the Car Pool Operators’ Association members got in touch with the parents of the children who travel in it.
“My son, who has been travelling in the van for the past two months, had complained about the wooden seats that are not fitted properly. I had talked to the owner, who assured me he would do the needful soon. But he did not keep his the promise,” said Aparna Banerjee, a Lake Gardens resident, whose son Supratim studies in Class VIII.
Ranjan Mitter, the principal of Future Foundation School, said: “We are not at fault. The school had issued a notice in 2005, alerting guardians about illegal and unsafe pool cars. I have also spoken to each and every parent.”
Expressing regret for the “lapse”, car-owner Ghosh said: “I will ply the car only after the faults are rectified.”
Santanu Saha, the general secretary of the association, said two more cars and a bus were found carrying schoolchildren without papers. “They were released after the drivers tendered an apology.”
The association, on an indefinite strike against alleged state highhandedness, has launched a drive against cars whose owners are not its members and are flouting rules.