It took more than three years and two cases of sexual violence involving schoolgirls for the Pune Regional Transport Office (RTO), to tighten the rules pertaining to school transport safety.

Pune RTO
Despite repeated warnings by Pune RTO, only 1,393 schools out of 6,896 schools in Pune district have formed the school bus committee. Fie/Pic

As per a notice issued by the RTO last week, the transport authority will issue permits to private bus owners only if parents of the children availing the bus services are ready to sign an agreement with the vehicle owners stating that they have no objection in sending their kids to school by their buses.

The decision was taken after none of the private schools took the RTO notices regarding the school bus committee seriously. After a 11-year-old schoolgirl was raped by the school bus driver in October last year and a male school bus attendant molested a four-year-old girl in April this year, the RTO and the education board have decided to keep track of the operations of school buses.

Even after the RTO and education department stressed on the June 30 deadline, not even a single private school has came forward to register any committees.

The school bus transport rules, which came into effect in March 2011, have stipulated various regulations for school buses, bus operators, the transport department and the school authorities. Despite repeated warnings by Pune RTO, only 1,393 schools out of 6,896 schools in Pune district have formed the school bus committee.

Regional Transport officer, Jitendra Patil said, “Due to private schools refraining from signing agreements with private bus owners, we have decided to issue permits to the private bus owners only if they are able to get the signatures of all the parents whose children are using the transport service.”

Patil added, “After the private bus owners are able to get the agreement signed, we will ask private schools to form the committees and ensure that the details are registered on the website developed by the Pune RTO and education department.”

“Our main objective is to ensure that the school vehicles should have female bus attendants so that any incident of girl child abuse can be avoided. Permit of the school bus will be cancelled for 45 days if there is no female attendant in the bus,” he added.

On the other hand, the education department has stated that they will be issuing notices to the school principals if they do not register the school transport committee on the website

Deputy Director (education), Suman Shinde said, “We have issued notices to the principals of the schools to formulate the school bus committees and register it on the website by July 15. We will be issuing warning letters to the principal of the school regarding this and if they fail to adhere to the rules, strict action will be taken.”