Dangerous school vans: 36 children forced to sit on 8-seater cab

Dangerous school vans: 36 children forced to sit on 8-seater cab
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Irshad Khan

Srinagar: Even as charging hefty amounts as transport and tuition fees, a well-known preparatory school in Srinagar crams more than thrice permissible number of kids in the transport vans thus posing a threat to their safety and health, parents have alleged.
Instead of avoiding overcrowding of kids in the vans, the school has ironically fired a driver who brought the violation to the fore.
Several parents-whose wards are enrolled at ‘Oasis Child Development Centre’, Qamarabad Bemina, a preparatory school owned by Oasis Group of schools-told Kashmir Reader that in a 8-seater van, the institute crams as many as 36 kids.
The Supreme Court of India in 2012 ruled that a school van could carry not more than 10 kids who were less than 12 years old.
The violation by the preparatory school came to the limelight after a video of a parent, Advocate Salman Matoo, a resident of Magam alleging overcrowding in the school vans went viral recently.
Matoo’s 3-year-old son, Zaid is enrolled at Oasis, Qamarabad, Bemina.
Aijaz Ahmad, a driver at Oasis, Qamarabad tells Matoo in the video that it was a routine at the school to cram 21 kids in a van.
Talking to Kashmir Reader over phone, Matoo alleged that despite charging Rs 3000 and Rs 2700 as tuition and transport fee respectively, the institute has been violating the norms on the permissible number of kids in a school van.
Despite bringing the matter into the notice of the school management including the principal, the overcrowding in the vans continues as on date, he added.
He said that the school did not take care of their wards the way they deserved. Before he uploaded the video on the social media on Friday, Matoo said that his son had been injured in the eye while he was travelling from the school back home in the van.
He termed the violation by the school a “moral prostitution”.
Instead of acting on the overcrowding, the driver, Aijaz Ahmad who features in the video, told Kashmir Reader that the school fired him on Saturday.
“They asked me why I had revealed the overcrowding in the video,” Aijaz said.
Aijaz confirmed to Kashmir Reader that overcrowding of kids in the vans was a routine at the school.
“I continuously ferried 21 kids in my van,” he informed.
Scores of parents-whose wards were enrolled at the preparatory school in question-too complained about overcrowding of kids in the vans while the school charged hefty amount from them as transport fee.
Chairman, Oasis Group of Schools, Ashiq Hussian said that that the parents were circulating fake information.
Despite the driver’s confirmation, Hussain denied having fired him.
The Traffic Police, Srinagar had in November last year claimed that it had launched a “campaign” against the schools indulging in overcrowding kids in the vans.
SP Traffic, Tahir Gillani and Director School Education Kashmir did not respond to calls made by this reporter.

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