BANGALORE: The city traffic police is leaving no stone unturned in order to implement the Safe Route to School project across approximately 2,800 schools in the city in the coming academic year. While SRTS is not new to Bangalore, the last time it was implemented, it had created a huge ruckus in the city with parents and teachers opposing the move.
However, Additional Commissioner for Police (Traffic and Internal Security) M A Saleem believes that this is just initial teething trouble. “When we started the pilot project for selected 16 schools in the centre of the city, we faced much criticism as well. Now however people agree that it was a good choice,” he said. He added that schools located outside the city are being targeted for inclusion this year.
Explaining how SRTS works, Saleem said, “It consists of three components - staggering of time, school duties for policemen and encouragement of public transport.” He explained that staggering would mean that all schools participating in the project would have to start from 8.30 am. “This is a good thing. It essentially means children can leave school early and will have time for other extra-curricular activities,” said Saleem.
Traffic police would be deployed around the schools at starting and ending time in order to assist students in entering the schools. “They will ensure no mishaps occur during the time when the children are entering or exiting the school. After school duty they will go back to their other jobs,” Saleem said.
The third part of the plan involves a massive campaign to discourage the use of private transport to ferry school children to and from schools.
Banning of private vehicles for a distance of 200 meters from school premises will be implemented. Students will also be encouraged to use school transport or BMTC buses which can be hired by the school authorities. “The BMTC is ready to provide buses for the cause. We are already providing 236 such buses,“ said a BMTC official. He said that current discounts provided are `1 below the value of the ticket.
Many of the school community welcome the move. “I would like to implement this. Uniform timing is an important step to beat traffic,” said Usha Mohan, Principal, India International School.
However, a certain section is opposed to the decision. Karnataka State Aided Primary School Teachers Association had recently opposed the advancement in school timings and had even received support from Minister for Primary and Secondary Education Vishveshwar Hegde Kageri who had assured them that schools would start only at 9.30am.