The school education department has issued a circular asking 26 prominent city schools, irrespective of affiliating boards, to ensure that all their students avail of either car pool or school buses by next April and that the use of personal vehicles by students is restricted to “exceptional cases”.
Directing the schools to introduce a system of buses or car pool, whichever is convenient, for transportation of children, the circular issued on Tuesday also advises that the schools seek options from guardians who use personal vehicles to ferry their children on whether they would prefer to use a school bus or car pool.
The deadline for implementation has been fixed as April 1.
The move is aimed at reducing traffic congestion as well as poor air quality near big city schools during opening and closing hours and comes in the wake of a series of meetings attended by school authorities, government representatives and Kolkata Police personnel. The circular is based on a National Green Tribunal order on air quality, a senior official at Nabanna said.
“All the schools have been asked to introduce their own fleet of buses or if need be hire school buses. The authorities can no more shrug off responsibility claiming the onus of private car pool or chartered buses does not lie with them. Parents who refuse to accept the services of the buses or car pool provided by the school will have to form a pool facility with children coming to the school from the same locality. The government will not allow private vehicles plying individual students to clutter the area and block major thoroughfares,” the official said.
A transport department official said the department can be approached for vehicular support, if required. “The state government is ready to give adequate subsidy to schools to purchase school buses,” he said.
Among the schools that have been sent the notice are the La Martiniere Schools, Don Bosco Park Circus, Lakshmipat Singhania, Birla High, Sushila Birla Girl’s School, St James, Pratt Memorial, Modern High School, GD Birla Centre For Education and Sakhawat Memorial.
The principal of a prominent school accepted that the intention to introduce a uniform transportation policy to avoid traffic snarls was in the interest of the public. “I’m yet to see the circular; after receiving it, I will call a meeting,” the principal said.
“We have received the order. I will hold a meeting of all stakeholders and then take a decision that will be convenient for the benefit of students and guardians,” said the Fr. Bikash Mondal, principal of Don Bosco Park Circus.
A school department official said that following two meetings between the school authorities and government representatives late last year, each school had submitted a proposed traffic plan to decongest their areas, which were endorsed by Kolkata Police and submitted to the school education department. “The schools have been directed to ensure scrupulous implementation of these plans by February 2020 with assistance from local police,” the official said.
Last month, the chief secretary had also submitted an affidavit to the NGT on the matter.
Source: Times of India