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Vans, autos with school kids packed like sardines brazenly run on city roads

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JAMMU/SRINAGAR,: It’s a tragedy waiting to happen. Vans and autos with school kids packed like sardines brazenly run on city roads in Jammu and Kashmir. Worse, neither the district administration nor the government seems to be intent on curbing the overloaded vehicles.
Two types of vehicles with 7+1 and 4+1 seating capacity transport school children in Srinagar and Jammu. Regional Transport Office gave permission to ferry twice the number of kids as against the seating capacity. This means the two category of vehicles can carry a maximum of 14 students and 8 kids each. But the permission is more often broken than observed in reality.
“We don’t have an option. The school vans have to give us fixed amount which is followed by van checking and other issues. How are we going to cope up with the expenses, if we don’t overload our vehicles?”, one of the driver of school van told Press Trust of Kashmir.
The vans charge Rs 1,000-Rs 1,000 from parents to ferry children. If one follows the seven and four seating rule, the transportation charges go up for each student. “It means a burden on the pockets of parents. No parent will give us double the fare if we decide to carry kids as per seating capacity,” a group of parents told VOICE OF VALLEY
Srinagar and Jammu has over 100+ top private schools of which 50% are senior secondary schools. The schools are unable to provide transportation to all students due to the limited number of buses. The bus reservation for students is done annually on ‘first come-first serve’ basis.
Such a situation has led to proliferation of private school vans whose numbers are more than 1000 in both cities. Despite availability of registered school vans, over 200 illegal vans are ferrying kids. Both registered and unregistered vehicles carry school children beyond their capacity.
“It’s a serious problem that needs immediate attention. Unless the government comes out with an order disallowing private vehicles and fixing the burden of transportation on schools, this issue won’t be resolved said one of the senior teacher of top private school of Srinagar.
On the ground, the police face the heat battling with traffic jams and checking traffic violations. The city roads both in Srinagar and Jammu are choc-a-bloc with thousands of vehicles in afternoon. The police had sat with school managements, and they blame the parents who were putting the lives of children at stake.
“At the end of the day, it’s the school management and the parents who need to sit together and discuss how to resolve this problem,” a police official of traffic department told Press Trust of Kashmir.
Bazila Rashid, mother of a school kid, said parents alone cannot be blamed. “We are ready to pay. But, there’s no arrangement either by the schools or the district administration. We are then forced to look for alternatives,” she said.

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