Guwahati, Sunday, December 26, 2010
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School buses flouting norms with impunity
Staff Reporter
 GUWAHATI, Dec 25 – School buses operating in blatant violation of norms and guidelines – including those issued by no less an authority than the Supreme Court of India – have posed a serious hazard to the safety of school children in the city.

Recently, the District Transport Officer (Registration and Licensing), Kamrup issued notices to Don Bosco HS School, Panbazar; Maharishi Vidya Mandir, Silpukhuri; and Srimanta Sankar Academy, Dispur, urging the school authorities to ensure compliance of norms for school buses following complaints from various quarters including the media.

Many of the buses used for carrying school children are old, polluting vehicles in poor running condition, with the result that these frequently suffer breakdowns and are highly susceptible to mishaps. The general practice is to use those buses for schools which are unfit for other running purposes. Several accidents involving school buses, in fact, took place in the city in the recent past. Add to this irresponsible ways of drivers and managers, and the situation is nothing short of a recipe for disaster.

Even more surprising is the fact that despite notices from the District Transport Office directing the school authorities to ensure strict compliance to the required norms and warning them with seizure of buses in the event of further non-compliance, the same situation persists.

Aggrieved guardians, however, said erratic running of school buses of Maharishi Vidya Mandir have been commonplace. Citing specific instances, they said that service of the school buses on route No 1 had been highly flawed, often leading to dangerous situations.

“The bus is rather small where the children are cramped, with some compelled to travel standing. It has an open back door which is left unattended by any staff. Another bus has no back glass,” a guardian said. Frequent breakdowns have been another irritant, and there have been several instances when the children had to walk back home very late after the vehicle developed snag, giving anxious moments to the guardians.

“In one instance, the bus staff did not bother to inform us about the breakdown and the bus manager gave us false information and misguided us,” he said, adding that in another instance the bus service was terminated without any information and the children were left stranded on the road.

Whatever may be the case, the utter irresponsible manner of functioning of school buses has emerged as a serious concern. “We want the administration and the Transport authorities to act tough on those responsible for the erratic and dangerous running of school buses,” another guardian said.

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