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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Disability rights groups urge government to make public transport accessible

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A collective of disability rights groups, in a joint letter to Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, has urged him to take steps at the earliest to ensure that public transport is accessible in terms of both vehicles and infrastructure. 

In their open letter titled “Continuing Inaccessibility of Public Transport. Are we not the public too?”, the groups, while thanking the government for making the Marina beach accessible, raised concerns about the MTC and other transport corporation buses remaining inaccessible.

“It was with great hope that a Public Interest Litigation was filed at the High Court of Madras on 23.11.2005 after a due process of representation and deliberations with the respective authorities for making MTC buses accessible for persons with disabilities. We offered all possible assistance from our side in this process, and we are offering the same even now,” they said. 

They further said that the transport department has filed affidavits saying they don’t have the extra money to buy/make these buses accessible or that the infrastructure is not suitable for running the accessible buses.

“It would be a shame if persons with disabilities are unable to enjoy the iconic and accessible Marina beach due to an inaccessible public transport facility. Also, like anyone else, persons with disabilities can enjoy their lives and their rights only if we are economically empowered and, as you know, economic empowerment is possible only through accessible public transportation,” their letter said. 

“Reason after reason continues to be given for buses in the city remaining inaccessible,” said Rajiv Rajan, a disability rights activist who has been highlighting the need for accessible transport and had initiated a legal battle for the same nearly 17 years ago.

“It’s not enough to label us as differently-abled persons, it is also the duty of the government to give us our right to freedom of movement, which is a fundamental right. We are not talking about an insignificant population, we are talking about 30% of the population who cannot access public transport in its current status. This includes senior citizens as well,” he said.



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