Bus in Vadakkencherry mishap was on MVD blacklist

RTO sources said there were five previous cases against the operator of the tourist bus. Photo: Bijin Samuel.

Kochi: The tourist bus involved in the accident at Vadakkencherry in Palakkad operated violating the rules and orders issued by the Motor Transport Department (MVD), it has emerged.

It is also alleged that school and college authorities booked the bus for the trip without conforming to the high-level order.

RTO sources said the bus was on the MVD blacklist and there were five previous cases against the operator.

Some of the videos taken before the start of the trip indicate the bus conducted the service by blaring horns. The footages also show the excess use of LED lights.

These are a clear violation of existing orders.

RTO officials said the speed governor was also found detached. The bus belongs to a Kottayam native.

As per the orders of the Collegiate Education Department and Transport Commissionerate, altered buses fitted with luxury lights and high-decibel horns should not be used for the leisure and study trips of school and college students. These rules were not adhered to by the ill-fated bus.

Transport Commissioner issued the direction to various Directors of Education in this regard on July 7.

The order makes it abundantly clear that those buses involved in accidents and found violating the rules would face the music. RTOs had initiated actions against such operators by seizing the vehicles.

There was a direction that the vehicles going on leisure trips with students should be produced at the Regional Transport Office to ensure road fitness.

The fatal mishap in Palakkad happened just four months after the High Court issued an order against turning tourist buses into 'dance-floors' by installing high-volume music systems, multi-coloured display lights, and fancy illumination using LED lights that distract the attention of other drivers and road users.

However, the case of the 'Luminous', the bus involved in the Vadakkenchery accident, is a classic instance of tourist buses operating, entirely disregarding the court directions.

Many buses belonging to the same operator are currently conducting services.

Though the MVD initiates action against such buses, whose owners are highly influential, they often let off with fines. The lights and horns would be removed temporarily, and the buses would be produced before the officials to get the required permits.

Once they are back on the roads, operators would reinstall lights and horns, violating the motor vehicle rules. Similarly, speed governors would function properly during tests.

However, the drivers will later detach them while conducting services.

The photos and videos, taken at the time of starting the tour, clearly show the violations.

The bus had luxury lighting, played music at a high decibel, and used prohibited horns. The photos and videos clicked by parents have now come out.

The High Court, while giving the order, had observed that attractive illuminative lighting would distract the attention of the other drivers and cause accidents.

The court then directed the officials concerned to take action against the vehicles using such LED lights.

A division bench comprising Justice Anil K Narendran and Justice PG Ajith Kumar directed that the licence of drivers of vehicles violating the rules should be suspended for three months.

If repeat offenses are detected, penal actions, including imprisonment, should be initiated against them.

The court further ordered that a WhatsApp number should be provided to enable the public to lodge complaints about vehicles indulging in sound pollution and violating the safety directions concerning lighting.

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