Almost 80 per cent of schools in Pune district have school bus committees, but conducting a thorough background verification of drivers and attendants remains a grey area. Officers of the Regional Transport Office, who are member-secretaries of the committee, said individual schools were responsible for verifying the backgrounds of drivers and attendants, while the school bus committee was involved in solving the logistical issues.
Headed by the police commissioner, the school bus committee has representatives of the RTO, the education department, and chief executive officer of the Zilla Parishad as members. The committee is supposed to meet twice a year and discuss issues pertaining to school transport. RTO officials said they intervene only when they receive complaints about obstruction of roads or other logistical issues.
At the school level, the head of the institution is supposed to head the committee; representatives of parents, the local RTO inspector and a local police official are members of the committee. The school-level committee is responsible for conducting background checks of the drivers and overseeing that every school bus and school van also has a woman attendant, as stipulated by the law.
As many as 3,900 vehicles ferry school children in the district, said RTO officials. However, they said schools have to be particularly careful about conducting background verifications of drivers. “In case of complaints, our inspector goes for a visit and suspends the transport license of the guilty party for 15 days,” he said.
Last year, three transport licences were suspended following reports about sexual misconduct from students. School authorities have also been instructed to undertake awareness camps to sensitise students and parents about the issue.