Autorickshaws ferrying school students to get additional safety features

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UT authorities are all set to direct owners of auto rickshaws, that ferry schoolchildren, to improve safety features on their vehicles. In an attempt to ensure that the auto rickshaws do not carry children beyond the permissible limit, the owners will now be told to install a gate on one end (entry side) and a grill at the other, so children do not fall out in case of accidents.

In a meeting on Saturday, between representatives of the Chandigarh Traffic Police, the Director Public Instructions (DPI), Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) and the State Transport Authority (STA), it was also decided that if the necessary modifications are not made by the auto rickshaw owners, their permits will be cancelled.

The STA authorities have now been asked to submit a response by next week so that it can be formally conveyed to the auto rickshaw owners.

With the various representatives expressing concern over the increasing number of accidents, involving auto rickshaws overcrowded with children, the Traffic Police will set up special nakas to check the problem. While rules state that an auto rickshaw can carry a maximum of five student below the age of 12 and not more than four above 12 years, a majority of the school-bound auto rickshaws in the city flout them.

The new measures come in the wake of other initiatives for school children. With the introduction of special government school buses, fares for students have been brought down to Rs 60 per month per child. The general manager (GM) of CTU will now submit details of the number of buses and their routes to UT authorities and the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The High Court, while hearing a contempt petition that was filed against Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana for not complying with court directions, passed in 1998, on traffic guidelines, had appreciated the steps taken by the Administration regarding the school buses but had asked it to ensure safety of school children in auto rickshaws as well.

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