Mirror – mirror on the wall, who is the youngest of them all
S Nirupama, a 10-year-old student of Amala Public School, Cherthala, filed an application under the RTI Act regarding the time schedule of buses using a particular bus route.
The reckless driving of private bus drivers had caused at least seven major accidents on the stretch of Cherthala-Kumbalangi route in the recent past, claiming four lives. The death of the Principal of the Amala Public School Sr Victus in one such accident while crossing the road had a deep impact on Nirupama. She was troubled by this episode for many months, and the feeling was aggravated when she learnt that others too had lost their lives merely because the drivers did not slow down.
Nearly 40 private buses ply on Cherthala-Kumbalangi route running parallel to the national highway against whose drivers, complaints have been made repeatedly by the residents but to no avail. The bus drivers competed against each other to get more passengers. The residents and school authorities had petitioned various authorities to start a police aid post here without any success. This made the young student filed two RTI queries in March 2013 regarding the time schedule of buses using the route. One application was filed with the chief minister's office and the other with the district collector. The district collector transferred the query to the road transport department (RTO) which informed Nirupama that the department has collaborated with Keltron to install a biometric punching machine to keep a tab on the bus timings.
Thus, the RTI query from her forced the road transport authorities to initiate a biometric punching facility to keep a check on the bus timings thereby avoiding speedy driving. The road transport department intends to monitor the digital records and impose penalty on the buses crossing the route before a specified time.
Perhaps, the class four student would be the youngest RTI applicant in the country to use the legislation for a public cause in her locality. She is the daughter of RTI activist D B Binu.