BENGALURU: Upa Lokayukta Justice Subhash B Adi has sought a reply from the transport commissioner and the additional commissioner of police (traffic) within a month on the action taken against illegal alterations to vehicles carrying schoolchildren.
He issued the order after receiving a complaint that the police and transport authorities have failed to take action against illegal alterations to vehicles like Tempo Travellers and Maruti Omnis used to ferry schoolchildren. The complainant, H Kodandarama, president of Ambedkar Yuva Sene, alleged that nothing is worse than making profit at the risk of life and limb of children. Such operators, in order to make quick money, have altered the vehicles to increase the seating capacity, in violation of the Motor Vehicles Act.
Such vehicles have been found ferrying children about three times the seating capacity, the complainants alleged. The seating capacity of a Maruti Omni is eight, including the driver. Tempo Travellers come in variants with seating capacities of 12, 15 and 18, including the driver.
“One of our members, Sibghath Ali Khan, conducted a survey of vehicles plying on St Mark’s Road and Residency Road, under the jurisdiction of Cubbon Park and Ashok Nagar traffic police stations, respectively.
“There are a minimum of 40 private vehicles operating from 15-20 schools in the central business district. Nearly 3,000 such private vehicles are running in Bengaluru. Shockingly, the RTO-Central issued a reply that no such vehicles have been plying in their jurisdiction,” he said.
Kodandarama said he had sent an e-mail on June 25, 2014, to the transport commissioner and again on August 7 and 8, 2014. However, he said he neither received a response from the transport commissioner nor got a reply under the Right to Information Act.
When contacted, Transport Commissioner Ramegowda said school vehicles that violate the law were being fined regularly. In December, as many as 10,262 school vehicles were checked in 12 regional transport offices of Bengaluru division. Among them, 243 vehicles were booked and 72 vehicles were seized. A total Rs 18.06 lakh was collected, including fine amount of Rs 4.11 lakh and Rs 13.93 lakh as tax, he said.