School bus owners put off strike after talks with babus

The School Bus Owners' Association (SBOA), which has threatened to go on a statewide indefinite strike soon, claims that the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court last year in response to a petition filed by it allowed buses older than 15 years to operate, which the state transport department is against.

Age matters: Children in a school bus. The state transport department 
and several schools have demanded that school buses which are older 
than 15 years be scrapped. representation pic

As discussed in a meeting between the members of SBOA and the state transport department officials on Tuesday, the strike that was supposed to start from Monday has now been put off till February 13. The members of SBOA demanded that the ruling of the Nagpur bench of the high court, which had ordered a stay on the scrapping of school buses older than 15 years, should be implemented all across the state and they should be allowed to operate old buses as a new bus costs approximately Rs 15 lakh, which they cannot afford. 

"They can't implement Nagpur court's judgment in Mumbai and Pune, as the laws are different in different cities. They are allowing luxury buses to operate, but not school buses which are older than 15 years, and they want us to take them off the roads. We give it daily for repairs and even spare parts are available in the market. The buses used are Euro4 which have low carbon emission," said Anil Garg, president of SBOA.

An official from the state transport department stated that though the department will take reference from the ruling of the Nagpur bench of the HC before scrapping old buses, other regulations, including installation of grills, fire extinguishers and additional staff, will not be changed.

"We have been discussing their problems time and again, and even a committee has been formed for the same. We'll see what can be done for scrapping of the old school buses," said an official from the department.

Row over safety norms for buses
SINCE December 2011, SBOA has been threatening indefinite strikes, alleging that bus operators are facing harassment from the RTO and the school education department over the implementation of the safety measures in school buses as per the state's guidelines.

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