It has been six days since the driver of a school bus was arrested for allegedly raping a four-year-old girl inside the vehicle, but the Panchkula police and administration are dragging their feet when it comes to conducting drives to check and penalise school buses found violating norms, claiming they have a busy schedule owing to Haryana Chief Minister Mahohar Lal Khattar’s visit.
While the Panchkula traffic police issued only five challans on Tuesday and none on Wednesday, the Mohali administration issued 177 challans on Monday and Tuesday. The Chandigarh administration has also been carrying inspections of schools and school buses with a joint team of traffic police and State Transport Authority.
Panchkula district, with over a 100 schools including government and private, has several school buses operating under it.
According to the Surakshit School Vaahan policy of the state passed in January 2014 and subsequent guidelines issued by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in mid-2015, all school buses are to have functional CCTV cameras and a woman attendant.
“Though all buses of private schools follow such rules as they have the money to support it, the small-level schools, especially the ones which exist in rural areas, fail to adhere to them. The police and administration seem to have forgotten their jobs and even after the rape of a child, they are least concerned,” said president of Resident Welfare Association S K Naiyar.
A traffic police officer said, “We are all busy in VIP duties as the CM is here. We will start a drive soon.”
Deputy Commissioner Mukesh Kumar Ahuja did not respond to calls or messages.
The Haryana Surakshit Vaahan policy also makes it mandatory for a district-level committee to be set up including the DC, SP, general manager of roadways and district education officer, and a sub-district level committee including SDM, DSP, block education officer and representative of Haryana general manager of roadways to “meet once each month and evolve action plan to enforce policies”. The committee shall also conduct inspection of school buses either in school premises or elsewhere to check compliance of rules for safer transportation to school going children. “The programme of inspection of school buses shall be planned in such a manner that each bus of each school is covered for inspection,” it says.
Sources in administration however said, “No such meetings are ever held. The officers are busy in VIP duty most of the times owing to the city’s position in Haryana. There is a lot to manage and a lot to adhere to. These things are only highlighted when a case occurs.”
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