Badaun school bus-van collision: Safety violations by multiple govt agencies exposed
A huge road-cutting that was left unrepaired and apparently failed to draw the authorities’ attention even during the ongoing two month’s state-wide ‘gaddha mukti’ campaign concluding on November 15, has been cited as the most important reason for the accident in a preliminary inquiry.
Lucknow: The tragic incident in which at least four children died and 16 others were injured when a school bus and a school van collided head on near a village in Badaun district of Uttar Pradesh on Monday morning has exposed a web of safety violations by different government agencies.
A huge road-cutting that was left unrepaired and apparently failed to draw the authorities’ attention even during the ongoing two month’s state-wide ‘gaddha mukti’ campaign concluding on November 15, has been cited as the most important reason for the accident in a preliminary inquiry conducted by the transport department that is itself in the dock for failing to act against the van that was not road-worthy.
According to the report sent by deputy transport commissioner, Bareilly zone, Sanjay Singh to the transport headquarters here on Tuesday, the Jal Nigam, after seeking the nod from the PWD, had dug the road to lay the water pipelines under the Har Ghar Jal scheme. But a long and deep trench made on the roadside, according to the report, was left unfilled.
“Irrespective of who dug the road, the wide trench on the side happened to be the primary cause of the collision between the two school vehicles,” Sanjay Singh told HT on phone.
“As soon as the bus driver spotted a gapping trench before him, he veered off the vehicle to his right in a desperate attempt to save it from falling into the trench and while doing so the bus collided with a speeding school van coming from the opposite direction,” he explained.
The Jal Nigam has denied the charge that it left the road unrepaired. “We did dig the road for laying water pipelines under the Jal Jeevan Mission but it was filled after the work before the monsoon,” Jal Nigam executive engineer, Badaun, Narendra Verma said. “The trench was most probably made by the flow of water during rain,” he added.
Executive engineer, PWD, Badaun, Manish Singh, was however, non-committal on all the questions, saying he was not able to comment till a detailed inquiry was conducted. “The district magistrate has set up a team to inquire into the accident from all angles. Let us wait for the findings,” he said.
But the wide road cutting that is a reality regardless of who caused it is not the only violation that the heart-wrenching mishap exposed. There are many more.
According to the transport department’s inquiry report, the school van involved in the accident was not only over-speeding but also operating on a road worthiness (fitness) certificate that expired more than two years ago. The maximum speed for school vehicles is fixed at 40 km per hour but the van, it is believed, was running at a much higher speed.
The report has also pointed out that the SRPS English Medium School, the van of which was involved in the accident, was also being run illegally as it had no recognition from the state government.
“The van driver who also lost his life along with his child was also the owner of the school that was not recognized by the government,” regional transport officer (RTO), Bareilly, Dinesh Kumar told HT.
Transport commissioner CB Singh here confirmed that he had received the report from the DTC, Bareilly zone and action would be taken on it.
“It has been found in the inquiry that the fitness or the road worthiness certificate of the van expired in 2021 and the owner did not get it renewed since,” he revealed.
“We are issuing a show cause notice to the transport department officials in Badaun in this regard,” Singh added. The transport commissioner also said that he had directed officials to run a campaign against school vehicles violating safety norms in Bareilly division.