Navi Mumbai: Representatives of around 500 private school van owners from Panvel have planned to go on an indefinite hunger strike from December 6, to press their demand to alter the process for license renewal for vehicles to ferry students to and from schools.
They claim that currently a large number of vans are operating without licence as they were unable to renew due to changes in the procedures.
This despite the fact that the Education Department has clarified with the state government that it will remove the agreement clause.
A consent letter from the schools concerned has been made mandatory for vans to obtain a new license or renew the old ones.
Vans have been extensively used as school buses to ferry students since the state government in 2011 allowed light motor vehicles to transport students 7 to 12 in them.
The private van association is alleging that schools in the Panvel region are reluctant to enter into an agreement with and give the consent letter to the van owners as they already have their own school bus system in place.
President of Panvel Rickshaw Vidyarthi Vahak Sanstha (PRVVS) Pandurang Humane said, “We have held several meetings with the RTO, and the District Education Department but have failed to arrive at a conclusion.”
Private school vans have been ferrying students without licence since schools reopened in April 2022.
“The licences of many vans have already expired and need to be renewed before ferrying students. The consent letter clause is holding up the renewal. In such a scenario, in case something happens, who will be held responsible?” Humane asked.
If the 500-odd vans that are currently plying in the area are not allowed to operate, it will be difficult for them to run their families, he added.
“We have decided to go on an indefinite hunger strike from December 6 and sought permission from the authorities concerned,” said Humane.
In a letter sent by the Education Raigad District to PRVVS, they sought reports from all school principals within three days regarding the agreement clause. However, the District Education Department clarified that as per the High Court direction, Maharashtra Motor Vehicle (Regulations for School Buses) Rules 2014 and School Education Department guidelines, the final decision regarding the matter lies with the school management.
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