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HC asks CS to tell why buses aren’t disabled-friendly (Advocacy & Lobbying)

Chennai: Asserting that the Tamil Nadu government has done nothing to alleviate the troubles of people with disabilities except reserving a seat near the entry in government buses, the Madras high court has directed the state chief secretary and transport secretary to appear and explain the failure to procure only disabled-friendly buses as directed by the court.
“Enough is enough, let the officers appear before the court and explain,” a division bench of Justice M Sathyanarayanan and Justice R Hemalatha said on Monday, directing the officials to appear through video conferencing on December 10.
Pointing to Section 41 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, the bench said the provision mandated the government to establish facilities for persons with disabilities at bus stops, railway stations and airports conforming to the accessibility standards relating to parking spaces, toilets, ticketing counters and ticketing machines.
“But nothing has been done. What is the point in passing legislation without implementation?” the court wondered. It has been almost a decade since these petitions have been filed, but nothing fruitful has been done, the bench added.
The issue pertains to a batch of PIL seeking appropriate facilities for persons with disabilities for accessing public transport.
When the plea came up for hearing, advocate T Mohan, amicus curiae appointed by the court, submitted that since 2017, the state transport corporation has procured 4,817 new buses, none of which are disabled-friendly in total violation of the court order.
Earlier, representing the TNSTC, advocate Rita Chandrasekar submitted that the corporation is already facing financial crunch and it could not afford to buy buses with low-floor since they cost twice as much as ones currently procured. “Moreover, such buses cannot be operated on Chennai roads. The corporation must first improve road conditions to operate such buses,” she said.
Procurement of such buses will be possible only if the state provides the funding to the corporation, she added. She further submitted that already buses fitted with hydraulic lifts are being tried on a pilot basis.