State presents draft to High Court; exercise undertaken after recent death of six-year-old

The formation of a school-level transport committee to look into matters relating to the safe transportation of children and an exclusive parent-teacher association to enable parents to make representations regarding the conduct of drivers and maintenance of school buses, are among the draft rules framed by the Tamil Nadu government to regulate school buses.

NEW RULES, NEW ROLES – click here for pdf

As per the TN Motor Vehicles (Regulation and Control of School Buses), Special Rules 2012, every school bus should be of semi-saloon type with a steel body. No vehicle should be covered with a canvas roof.

Notified on Aug 31

The rules, notified on August 31, were produced before the First Bench of Chief Justice M.Y. Eqbal and Justice T.S. Sivagnanam, which had directed the State government to undertake the exercise in the wake of the death of S. Sruthi, a class II student of Zion Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Selaiyur, near here. She fell through a hole in the school bus and was run over.

The Bench had taken suo motu cognisance of the incident and given the direction to the government. When the matter came up, Advocate-General A. Navaneethakrishnan produced the draft rules.

The Bench said that it had gone through the rules and was fully satisfied. If they were implemented in letter and spirit, accidents involving school buses would be minimised to a great extent. It treated the suo motu writ petition as closed.

Special cell for RTOs

As per the rules, a special cell should be constituted for each Regional Transport Office and the unit office under the chairmanship of the zonal joint transport commissioner (JTC) or the deputy transport commissioner (DTC). The cell should consist of the RTO concerned, RTO (Enforcement Wing)/Motor Vehicle Inspector (MVI) Grade I/Grade II of the Enforcement Wing, MVI Grade I of the Regional Transport Office concerned and MVI Grade II, wherever available in the RTO concerned.

The JTC/DTC would prepare a schedule for the inspection of school buses so that all vehicles could be inspected once every quarter. The special cell should conduct the testing and inspection of buses as per the Motor Vehicles Act, the rules and the special rules for school buses.

Every school should produce its vehicles before the special cell once in three months from the date of issue or renewal of fitness certificate and obtain a road worthiness certificate.

Parents to take part

Recognising the fact that parents of students transported by school buses had a major say in the operation and maintenance of the vehicles, to enable them to make any representation with regard to conduct of drivers/attendants, maintenance of school buses and safety of students, an exclusive parent-teacher association headed by the principal/headmaster of the school should be formed.

Parents whose children were being transported by school buses would be the members. The association should meet once a month. The parents’ views should be sent to the school-level transport committee, which would look into them.

The panel, headed by the principal/headmaster, should have as members the sub-inspector of the area concerned; an official from the educational authority, MVI Grade I/II, a representative from the parent-teacher association.

Meet once a month

The committee should meet once a month, verify the documents relating to buses, certificate of registration, certificate of fitness, insurance, permit, driving licence and ensure the provision of a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit.

It should send a report to the District-Level Inter-Departmental Committee for each district to discuss and recommend issues pertaining to safety. The committee should be headed by the RDO and have as members RTO (Member-Secretary), Deputy Superintendent of Police, Chief Educational Officer and District Educational Officer and MVI Grade I/Grade II.

This panel should meet once in three months and evolve an action plan to conduct checking of school buses. The committee would function as a flying squad to enforce the rules.