As a strike by school vans and auto-rickshaws entered day two after a crackdown by the Road Transport Office and Vadodara traffic police against vehicles flouting rules, Vadodara police on Wednesday helped students by ferrying them in their PCR (police control room) vans and their motorbikes.
As many as 46 police motorcycles, 21 PCR vans and nine police jeeps were put on the task of helping students reach school on time. The Vadodara traffic and city police helped more than 250 students reach schools across the city.
“Every vehicle carrying students has to follow certain safety norms like not carrying more students than the actual capacity and overcrowding the van,” Vadodara traffic police ACP AK Vanani said explaining the reason behind the crackdown. “We initiated a drive in this regard in Vadodara as well, but the association (of auto-rickshaw and school van drivers) called for a strike. But we understand that the schools have just reopened and it is not easy for every parent to drop their children to school. So we have devoted our morning hours to help such students so that they do not face any inconvenience and do not miss classes. We will continue to do so until the strike is called off.” he added.
Why the recent crackdown
Following an incident in Ahmedabad in which three students fell off an overcrowded van, Vadodara traffic police issued a circular of rules to be followed by vehicles ferrying students to schools. This is in addition to The Motor Vehicles Act of 1988, which is routinely flouted, and the Supreme Court’s instructions in 1997to install speed governors in such vehicles. The Vadodara circular says any van or auto modified to accommodate students should have a permit issued by the RTO, must limit carrying capacity to 14 students below 12 years in vans and 6 in autos, and have first aid and fire safety equipment on board. Police have cracked down on vehicles flouting the rules of the circular as well as of the MV Act and orders of the Gujarat Government.
The RTO and police began the crackdown on vehicles transporting students to school, a day after three students fell down from a moving school van in Ahmedabad. The van had been carrying as many as 22 children, due to which the door could not be closed properly and the students fell down when the vehicle took a turn.
On Tuesday, drivers of three buses, 12 auto-rickshaws and 16 vans were detained by the RTO and the Vadodara traffic police for not following safety norms. Following this, the drivers of school vans and auto-rickshaws went on strike.
Two public interest litigation petitions had been filed in the High Court over the past decade, following which it was decided that a maximum of 14 students under 12 years of age can travel in a van and six in an auto rickshaw. Action is being taken against vehicles flouting this norm.
School van accident: driver arrested
The driver of the school van from which three children fell out because of overcrowding and were injured on Monday, was arrested on Tuesday for rash driving and negligence. He got bail on Wednesday.
A 16-year-old girl was critically injured while two others escaped with minor injuries when the Maruti Eeco van, packed with 22 children, took a steep right cut in Nikol area, resulting in the students being flung off the van. The police registered a case against driver Kiran Desai on Tuesday and arrested him the same day.
“We have booked him under Indian penal code sections 279 and 337 for rash driving and causing hurt by act of negligence, along with other sections of the Motor Vehicles Act. He is a resident of Nikol and we arrested him on Tuesday. He applied for bail and he was released on Wednesday,” Deepak Kumar, Head Con-stable and Investigating Officer, G Division Traffic Police Station, said.