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Tuesday, 10 July, 2007

Does anybody worry about kids?

Do people really worry about kids except their own? You ask me or anybody else, the answer will be a big NO. You ask politicians about kids’ safety, their empowerment; every politicians will give a big lecture and will project him/herself as a godfather of all kids. You ask school management, all of them will claim that they give topmost priority to kids’ safety. Yet buses carrying children to school meet with accidents.

A speeding minibus carrying schoolchildren overturned in east Delhi’s Preet Vihar on Monday morning, killing a parent and seriously injuring several of the students and a teacher. Some children suffered serious injuries on their faces and the condition of two girls was critical, doctors treating them at various city hospitals said. The police said the private minibus was carrying 25 children — apart from the teacher and parent — which was more than its capacity.

The Supreme Court (SC) had prescribed elaborate guidelines to minimize the risk that school children ran while travelling in private buses hired by schools to ferry them. The guidelines were meant for school buses all over the country. In the Capital, the Delhi Traffic Police started enforcing the guidelines from 2004.

But the exhaustive guidelines are observed more in the breach as the police lack the wherewithal to enforce them, keeping in view the 5,000-odd school buses that ply to pick up children from all parts of Delhi. Bus drivers are always in a hurry as they, after dropping the kids to school, have to pick up office-goers and take them to their destinations well before the strict in-time enforced by offices through swipe cards.

As for the drivers, the apex court had said that only those having five years' heavy vehicle driving experience would be eligible to ferry school children. A school bus driver would automatically be pulled out of the duty chart if he was booked twice for traffic related offences. It had fixed 40 kmph as the speed limit for school buses.

Apart from that, the SC had directed a series of preventive measures: first-aid box in the bus, doors to be fitted with proper locks, fire extinguisher, horizontal parallel grills on windows, school bag tray under the seat and provision for water. In addition, the court had made it mandatory for a supervisor, to be deputed by the school, to accompany the children — both while picking them for school and while dropping them back at home.

The guidelines, though welcomed by schools, are being observed in breach. While hiring chartered buses for ferrying students, school management should exercise control over the staff of the private buses through the contract. But they don’t do it. Rather schools look at it yet another way of making money.

Are Delhi CM and her Education Minister worried? Are PM and his HRD Minister worried? Is Delhi LG worried? Are Delhi Police worried? Are people of Delhi worried? It does not seem so. Accidents keep happening but they do not take any action. What betterlife they will give to the kids when buses are taking away their lives and they are simply looking like Bhishma and Dronacharya?

To know about SC guidelines click on

SC Guidelines



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