Giving school bus permits to vans in Nashik defy both SC and Centre.
Mumbai: The School Bus Owners Association (SBOA) has questioned transport minister Diwakar Raote over the alleged distribution of school bus permits to vans on July 15 in Nashik. The SBOA has said it will be forced to file contempt petitions in the Supreme Court against the state government and the minister for flouting the orders of both courts, as well as a central government definition of school buses that stipulates a minimum seating capacity of 13 for a vehicle to be a school bus.
Anil Garg, president of SBOA, said the issuance of school bus permits approved by the transport department before June 30 to vans in Nashik on Saturday, was “outrageous.” He said it was in violation of norms laid down by the judiciary and government. “Despite the hue and cry about vans not adhering to safety norms while plying children to and fro from school, the state has permitted the issuance of permits,” said Mr Garg, adding that the department was compromising the safety of children for vested interests and working to benefit operators who owned only fleets of vans.
“In light of this we have no option but to approach the apex court as the state is violating the rules and norms and by allowing it the transport minister is also guilty of jeopardising the lives of innocent children,” said Mr Garg. He said SBOA would be filing a contempt petition in the SC next week.
However, Mr Raote was unperturbed by SBOA’s allegations. “I held a meeting of parents and schools and they said they preferred smaller vehicles to a school bus as the vans were more economical and convenient. While parents prefer school buses to vans in metros, parents in other cities and towns prefer vans and smaller vehicles as the fees are less and provide doorstep drops to the children,” said Mr Raote.
The minister added that while SBOA may have a valid grouse, the opinion of parents also needed to be taken into consideration. “The court would be in a better position to decide on the issue and hopefully come out with a rule that could be the middle path,” said Mr Raote.