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Students injured in bus crash

The school bus that rammed into another bus on VIP Road on Monday. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta

Joramandir: Seven students returning home in a packed school bus were injured when their vehicle crashed into another bus that had braked suddenly to avoid an autorickshaw picking up a passenger in the middle of VIP Road.

Two of the injured girls required stitches on the head and the rest had multiple cuts and bruises in the accident at Joramandir on Monday afternoon.

Soma Mondal, a student of Class VII at Lake Town Government Sponsored Girls' High School, was advised a CT scan to rule out any internal injury.

"The auto had stopped in the middle of the road near Joramandir, forcing the drivers of both the government bus and the school bus right behind to slam the brakes. The collision happened because the school bus was travelling at speed," said a police officer in the Baguiati Traffic Guard.

The bus, ferrying students of classes VII to X home after classes gave over in the Lake Town school, was going towards the airport when the accident occurred around 5pm. The injured girls were taken to a nursing home on the opposite flank of the road.

Shrabona Choudhury, the principal of the school, said the bus had been chartered by the parents. "Our school does not own any bus. The service is by a private operator chosen by the parents for their wards."

According to motor vehicles inspectors, parents must take responsibility and choose the right transport for their schoolchildren rather than wait for the authorities to catch illegalities that endanger their kids' lives.

Bimal Routh, who was at the wheel of the school bus involved in Monday's accident, was detained at Baguiati police station. The autorickshaw that triggered the accident sped away. The driver hadn't been traced till late on Monday.

Autorickshaws are a menace on VIP Road because of their complete disregard for traffic norms. The threat of an accident has increased with the average speed of traffic going up a few notches since the road was widened.

"If an auto driver sees a passenger waiting ahead, he will overtake from the left at risk just to be able to beat a competitor to it. It is so scary," said 62-year-old Tapan Mitra, a resident of Baguiati.

Autorickshaw drivers across Calcutta enjoy immunity from prosecution for traffic offences, thanks to the clout of their unions. Last week, autorickshaws went off the Garia-Tollygunge route for 30 hours after a driver was arrested for allegedly molesting an elderly woman.

A police officer said speeding buses were as much a problem as autorickshaws stopping wherever they please. "The risk of an accident stems from the fact that buses travelling at speed don't maintain a safe distance from other vehicles."

The minimum stipulated distance between two vehicles is five metres.

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