Two days after four children were charred to death in Longowal of Sangrur after their school van caught fire, Punjab’s Transport Department on Monday launched a statewide drive to check road worthiness of school vehicles.
As part of the statewide drive, 4504 vehicles were checked, of which 1649 were challaned and 253 impounded for not complying with the requisite parameters of Motor Vehicle Act.
The vehicles were checked for overloading, fitness of vehicles, fire extinguishers in buses, first aid box, among other things, officials said. Authorities were also checking private vehicles like three wheelers arranged by parents for sending children to schools. A Punjab government spokesperson said that this drive would continue further to ensure that all such vehicles adhere to the stipulated norms for the security and safety of the school children.
Ludhiana Police Commissioner Rakesh Agrawal also said that now school buses and vans will be checked on daily basis and schools/drivers found violating ‘Safe School Vahan Scheme’ will not be allowed to ply on roads.
On first day of checking of school buses in Ludhiana Monday, officiating Deputy Commissioner, Iqbal Singh Sandhu, said that a total of 918 school buses were checked in the district, of which 308 buses were issued challans and 36 were impounded. He informed that the checking was carried out by sub-divisional magistrates, regional transport authority and police.
According to him, a total of 483 buses were checked by secretary, regional transport authority of which 138 were challaned and 22 were impounded. Similarly, 435 buses were checked Ludhiana city police of which 170 were challaned and 14 were impounded.
Sandhu informed that the checking of school vehicles will be done daily as strict instructions have been issued to the officials for effective implementation of Safe School Vahan scheme. He informed that departments have been asked to submit a daily report in this regard.
Sandhu said that all three police establishments in the district — Commissioner of Police (City), SSP, Ludhiana (Rural) and Khanna police have been told to ensure that school buses/vehicles are checked on daily basis.
District Education Officers (DEOs) have been instructed to constitute a sufficient number of teams to check on the various schools to see if they are following the guidelines of the Safe School Vahan scheme.
District Child Protection Officer has also been assigned the duty to inspect the vehicles of different schools daily and send the report to the district administration for compliance with the said scheme.
Around 213 vehicles were checked in Jalandhar and Nawanshahr districts of Doaba region on Monday and challans issued to 67 buses for violating the Safe School Vahan norms.
In Jalandhar, 140 buses were checked, 48 were challaned and nine were impounded. Deputy Commissioner Jalandhar Varinder Kumar Sharma said that Secretary, Regional Transport Authority (RTA), checked 41 school buses, challaned 26 and impounded six of them while Sub Divisional Magistrates (SDMs) of various subdivisions checked remaining 99 vehicles and challaned 22 and impounded three of them.
In Nawanshahr, DC Vinay Bublani said that in three subdivisions 73 school buses were checked and challans issued to 19 for violating ‘Safe School Vahan’ norms. Out of these school vehicles, as many as 8 were challaned in Balachaur, 6 in Nawanshahr and 5 in Banga.
The DC has asked DSP (Traffic) Deepika Singh to collect the data of all school vehicles transporting students so that a proper action plan can be prepared to take offenders off the roads.
Also, SDM (Nawanshahr) has been directed to coordinate with NHAI officials to construct the remaining portion of the ongoing project to make it a smooth stretch.
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