Officials of State Transport Authority (STA) Friday visited schools to inspect their buses, and found that it is not only private schools which refuse to take responsibility for any incident on the bus, but government schools also claim that since buses do not belong to them, students travelling by them are not their responsibility.
While there are over 800 buses plying for all the private schools, there are 35-40 buses running for only eight government schools: Government Model Senior Secondary School (GMSSS), Sector 16; GMSSS-18; GMSSS-19; GMSSS-20; GMSSS-21; GMSSS-35; GMSSS-8 and GMSSS-28. The STA officials assert that none of the government school buses follows even the basic norms of having a first-aid kit and a fire extinguisher, adequate space for school bags in the bus and an attendant too.
STA Additional Secretary Rajiv Tiwari said, “We have asked the school principals to keep tabs on the school buses, since their students travel by them. They are very much a stake-holder in this.”
However, principals of the government schools maintain that since there is no provision for school transport, they are not responsible to take care of the buses or any of the untoward incident happening on the bus.
“Though the buses bear the school name, they have taken permission from the administration to do so. We do not have any role to play like private schools, which have agreements with the bus operators. None of the buses belongs to us and this is the reason why we cannot be held responsible for anything,” said Anujit Kaur, principal of Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 16.
However, Tiwari said that in 2010, Ram Niwas, the then UT home-cum-transport secretary, had launched a government school bus project, Micro School Escort, for around five schools in sectors 16, 18, 19, 28 and 35. Under this project, nine buses were given to the schools and an agreement was signed between the private transport operator and the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) incharge/management committee of each school. Going by this agreement, it means that the school is very much responsible for its buses and for any incident happening on the bus as the school principal plays a significant role in the PTA and the management committees as well. Thus, the government school principals cannot refuse to accept their responsibility in regard to the buses.