‘Rs 1950 for 0-5 km distance, Rs 2450 for 5-10 km, Rs 45 for every additional km’
Srinagar: Private Schools Association of Jammu and Kashmir (PSAJK) Sunday said that it is fully aware of the transportation crisis that has affected both schools and the parents at the onset of opening of schools.
The Association said that the opening of educational institutes after three years has come up with a new set of challenges and providing of dependable, safe and affordable transportation service is the prominent among them.
It said that it is aware of the lack of schools buses and vans at this juncture. The Association said that it is getting hundreds of calls from worried parents and school admins apprising them of the gravity of the situation.
Explaining the issue, spokesperson of PSAJK said, “Earlier schools used to merge the academic and transportation fee accounts together, to provide transport services to students at a reasonable rate. But now the situation has entirely changed. First the School Fee Committee recommends keeping transportation and academic fee accounts as separate ones, so one cannot subsidise transportation on the back of academic fee. Secondly during the last three years most of school bus fleets and even that of private transporters has almost gone defunct. Due to almost zero income, the fitness certificates, road taxes, EMI’s and other expenses are pending thus creating a huge liability. In the current situation when everyone is facing financial crunch the working of transportation at previous rates is impossible. The price of diesel and petrol has increased by a big margin during the last three years adding to the woes.”
In view of the prevalent chaos, Executive body of PSAJK met yesterday to take stock of situation. To address the issue PSAJK tried to approach SRTC to help schools arrange vehicles on urgent basis which was not found feasible on account of cost per seat.
“SRTC has a 26 days cycle of payment. For 19 seater, they charge 85,280 which amounts to Rs 4488 per seat per month without helper. And for 50 seater, they would charge Rs 1,50,000 which amounts to Rs 3000 per seat per month. 30 seater buses were not available but 50 seater busses cannot ply on interior roads,” the spokesperson said.
“A large number of parents have already said that they cannot afford such charges due to economic situation and PSAJK understands it fully. The Association said that if everybody tries to stick to their hard stand, no progress can be achieved,” the spokesperson said.
“So it was decided to fix the rates for school buses and put the anxiety of both parents and school administration to rest. The rates for 0-5 km distance has been fixed at ₹ 1950 per month and 5-10 km at ₹2450 per month and every additional km should pay additional ₹45 per km. All schools have been directed to charge only 50 % during off periods extending to one month or more,” he said. “Furthermore there will be only 50% transportation fee during non-operational period/winter vacations.”
In case of any grievances parents have been requested to call the grievance cell of PSAJK on this number 7889578450, 01942471110
The Association has also directed all schools to update the documents as soon as possible and avoid any illegal plying of vehicles. At the same time PSAJK has appealed the administration to be lenient for first two months till schools update the documents.
The Association said that it is a temporary arrangement and it needs a permanent solution for which government needs to step forward too.
“Schools have to incur huge expenses on transportation. We appeal government to waive off interest of our EMI’s, road tax, fitness charges and other miscellaneous charges. Government should also defer installing of GPS in school busses which otherwise is a huge expense for schools,” he said.
Pitching for environment friendly solution to the issue, the Association appealed the UT administration to introduce Electric Vehicle (EV) Policy at the earliest with keep a special clause benefiting school transportation. “Unfortunately ours is one of the few state/UT’s which doesn’t have an EV policy. States like Gujarat or New Delhi provide huge subsidies on the purchase of an EV. We appeal the LG administration to introduce an EV policy with a special clause to benefit school transportation. This will benefit students, parents in a big way and also save our environment too. Be it converting old buses into electric buses or purchase of new electric busses everything should be covered in it,” the spokesperson said. “This will be part of a long term and sustainable solution.”