With shock and gloom prevailing all around the state after the Nurpur tragedy, the Himachal government Tuesday decided to set up a high-level committee under Chief Secretary Vineet Chawdhry for framing mandatory guidelines to protect children in private schools.
Hours after Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur made this announcement at Nurpur, Chief Secretary convened a meeting with top officials of the home department, transport, education and others to pass orders to all Deputy Commissioners to conduct random checking of school buses and private vehicles engaged in ferrying children to schools atleast once a month.
“The tragedy has shaken the entire state and we can’t compromise on safety of children.The incident exposes lapses in terms of protection of lives of children and violation of the Supreme Court guidelines and even the directions issued by the CBSE. This can’t be allowed anymore. Now, once report of the magisterial probe is received, the government will take stern action, if lapses are found”, Chawdhry told The Indian Express after the meeting.
The Chief secretary was briefed by officials that the driver, who lost his life, did not have a valid driving licence and his licence had expired in 2015. Yet, he was given a job to transport children with no one questioning him about the risk factor.
The road at the accident site was six metre wide where two buses could easily cross simuletaneously. The condition of the road was also fine. But on one side of the road there was a vehicle parked towards the hill side. But around 20 cms of the road on the valley side was loose soil which was wet after the rains. The driver moved ahead when a motor bike was also coming from opposite site. The bus went over the loose strata of the road and it plunged down from the cliff.
“I have ordered PWD to visit all black-spots (around 697) in the state. They are supposed to give a report within the next 15 days and thereafter take steps to do rectification in six months, which include installing crash barriers,” Chawdhry said.
Meanwhile, the government today decided that all cultural functions in Kangra will be cancelled and even the venue for ‘ Himachal Day’ will be shifted to Shimla. Earlier, it was sceduled to be held at Indora in Kangra.