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Overloaded autos put school kids at risk in Tirupati

Overloaded autos put school kids at risk in TirupatiSchoolchildren in an overloaded auto at Bhavani Nagar Circle in Tirupati
Highlights

About 10 students travel in an auto as against permitted load of six.

Parents prefer autos because of their budget constraints.

Transport official says they need parents support to enforce law.

Tirupati: Overloading of school children in auto rickshaws has become a common sight with the opening of schools.

The safety of children was put at high risk not only by auto drivers but even by parents, who let their wards go in such autos to school. Several parents seem to be not bothering about the safety aspect as they see it from economic angle only.

Even,the Transport department officials and traffic police, who have to enforce the law, were keeping a blind eye on these autos. The schoolchildren can be seen travelling in jam-packed autos daily to reach their schools. While the government norms allow six children only in an auto, in practice, every auto carry more than 10 students.

In rural areas, the number would be even more high with children can be seen sitting on others lap and pushing each other for space. Few student legs and hands are popping out from the auto and what is even more dangerous was the driver would be surrounded on three sides by some children.

Several autos have been fitted with a plank in front of the passenger seat to accommodate more children. Another dangerous practice was the school bags and lunch bags can be seen hanged on the sides of the vehicles to the specially fixed hooks in order to provide more space inside. This even cause disturbance to other passing vehicles. The damage cannot be imagined if any untoward incident happens due to such acts, said a parent who preferred not to send his daughter in an auto as risk is involved. He opined that the school managements also should take care of the children's safety and advice accordingly in parents meet. It's not only money but parents should also seriously think of their children's safety.

Yet, parents prefer these autos as the drivers charge around Rs 500-1,000 depending on the distance while the parents have to pay more than Rs 3,000 if they want to send their children alone in an auto.

The school managements also charge hefty fees for school buses and even then, they cannot come to the doorstep of several students where lies the advantage of hiring an autorickshaw, said another parent. No doubt, it's the cheap and convenient mode of transport and knowing fully aware of the risks, they let their children to take such autos. The Motor Vehicle Inspector (MVI) B Suresh Naidu has said that they need parents support to enforce the law in the case of overloaded autos, who argue that they send their children under such conditions because of their economic conditions.

He further added that, last year about 50-60 autos were seized, but no change was seen. This year, more than 30 school buses were seized for violating rules. Possibly, they start focussing on erring auto drivers also with a special drive.

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