Parents complain that even after a week of the accident, no new school bus service has been started, after terminating the previous contractor
A week after the tragic death of nine-year-old Viraj Parmar, student of Vallabh Ashram School in Sion, parents of students studying at the institution allege that the school authorities are negligent in their approach towards the safety of students studying there.
Aggrieved: Devendra Parmar, father of Viraj who died in a school bus
mishap at Sion last week. Pics/ Shadab Khan and Kranti Vibhute
Besides not approaching traffic authorities to mark the road in front of the school with a zebra crossing, parents say that the management has not made any alternative provisions for a new bus service for school children (the previous bus contractor's service was terminated after the incident). This slipshod attitude of the management has put parents in a limbo. They now have to drop and pick up their children from the school, which has added to their woes.
Reacting to a notice displayed on a black board onthe school premises, parent of a primary school student Protima Jhaveri (name changed on request) said, "I have two kids, and I have to travel all the way from Pratiksha Nagar to drop and pick up my children. It's become a hassle for me after the school has stopped the bus service. What's more frustrating is that they haven't made any alternative arrangements for students living far away."
Chetana Kadam, (name changed) another parent of a primary student, said, "Working parents are facing a dilemma with cancellation of bus services. Moreover, children are facing trauma after seeing the accident.
Instead of easing the distress by providing counseling, the management is adding to the misery. At a recent parent-teacher meeting, one of the teachers mentioned that a few children took ill after witnessing the horrific accident and didn't show up for three days."
Speaking to MiD DAY, aggrieved father of Viraj, Devendra Parmar said, "There is a roundabout opposite the school and vehicles approach the turn going towards Sion railway station with high speed. The need of the hour is a zebra crossing outside the school. The school management is disinterested in approaching the traffic authorities, while parents dread confronting the management, fearing retribution by the school authorities. The school hasn't learnt a lesson after my son's death."
Expressing apathy at the manner of approach, after the accident, by school authorities and other parents alike, Parmar said, "No one took the initiative to rush my son to the nearest hospital. If there was no taxi available, why wasn't my child taken on a bike to the hospital?"
He further added that his son was fond of sitting in the backseat of the bus. He used to complain that the older boys would force him to sit at the back. "He always asked me to come and scold the older students. But I ignored his request and asked him to avoid them."
The other side
The school principal, Rosy Singh, was unavailable for comment, as schoolteachers standing near the gate refused to let this reporter meet her, claiming that she was busy. However, one of the teachers confirmed that the school bus service is shut right now and there is no alternative arrangement made for students.
Best friend speaks
Dhruv Mane, Viraj's best friend, witnessed the accident as he was sitting next to him on the fateful day in the bus. "I was also peeping out of the bus waving goodbyes to our friends. But as soon as the school bus started, I pulled my head inside and asked Viraj to do the same. But he didn't hear me as he was waving to our friends, who were not paying attention to us. Within a fraction, he got hit by the pole and started crying for help. The bus stopped and the cleaner immediately came and removed him from the bus through the window and took him inside the school. All of us in the bus were terrified and were rushed to the school hall. Our parents were called to take us away."