The school bus accident near Hallomajra Monday has led to panic among parents, who have raised concerns over the safety of children traveling by school buses in the city. Two school children had suffered injuries after a school bus of Mount Carmel School, Sector 47 hit a stationary truck. While one of them was discharged after treatment, the other one underwent a surgery and was yet admitted in Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32.
Parents associations blame the Chandigarh administration for ‘not listening’ to them and allege that school managements were not completely implementing the safety guidelines laid down by CBSE and also the UT administration. “There is also a STRAP policy by UT administration. There are adequate provisions in the policy like all the buses should have GPS and a parent can track the moment of the buses, with the help of a mobile application. But only a few schools have complied with this,” Nitin Goyal, president, Chandigarh Parents Association, said. ”
Goyal was referring to the UT administration’s Safe Transportation Policy for students (STRAPS) that was formed in 2015. The policy mentions that whether school children are transported by buses owned by a school or by an independent contractor, the school management cannot disown its responsibility regarding the safety of school children. An eight-page guideline mentions the maximum speed limit of the bus shall be 50 kmph, and installation of GPS system shall be responsibility of bus operator/owner…a mobile application indicating the location of concerned bus for parents shall be got prepared and activated by schools.
It also mentions that cameras shall be installed by the bus owner/operator so as to the clearly videograph and record the whole of incident of the bus during travel or in stand by mode.Earlier this year, CBSE also issued detailed guidelines for transport facilities in schools.
But the parents claim that nothing was being implemented by the schools.
Pardeep Kumar, President, Mount Carmel Parents association, also blamed the Chandigarh Administration for not listening to them. “We even wrote a letter to MP Kirron Kher. We had been raising this issue about the outsourcing of transport system. Our demand was that the condition should be improved in the buses. But no one is listening,” he said.
Mount Carmel school management, however, refuted the allegations. “We are following all rules and regulations. Anyone can come and check the buses. I don’t know why some parents are making it a big issue,” Iona Valerie Brendish, Principal, Mount Carmel School, said. She added that the school management is going to further scrutinise the drivers and attendants, so that such an accident is not repeated.
“After Monday’s incident, I am worried about the safety of my child. Despite paying a huge amount for school bus fee, nothing major has been done to ensure the safety of the children in the school buses,” said Dr Sarika Sharma, whose daughter is studying in a private school.
Principals of schools say school managements are “responsible to check the condition of the buses and the main responsibility is with the bus owners.”
“…my concern is that the bus is in good condition, safety box is inside and the driver has the license. We don’t take responsibility for an accident, but we do take responsibility that the bus is technically in safe condition,” Chairman of Vivek High School, H S Mamik told Chandigarh Newsline. He added that the state transport authority is the implementation authority.
“Legally, it is the responsibility of the bus owner. But the schools should try and see that the bus owners are adhering to the guidelines,” Kavita Das, principal of St John’s School, Sector 26, said. The UT administration is resuming the inspection process of the school buses which was stopped due to summer vacation. “If schools are not adhering to the guidelines, we will take suitable action. We will check all the school buses again”, said Rajiv Tiwari, Additional Secretary, STA.