Disabled fret as only 400 wheelchairs for the polls
TIMES OF INDIA, 6th Feb 2015, Page 6
This election may not be a hassle-free affair for elderly and disabled voters. The number of wheelchairs provided to polling booths has been reduced to 400 from 2,600 in the general elections, the Election Commission's letter to chief electoral officer asking him to repeat “all measures taken in the past“ notwithstanding.
Worried activists are wondering why enough wheelchairs cannot be arranged seeing as the capital witnessed barrier free elections for the very first time in 2014 with the ministry of social justice and empowerment actually praising the `Delhi model'.
A letter dated February 1 from the office of the chief electoral officer to deputy electoral officers in the nine election districts said, “It is informed that only about 400 wheelchairs are being supplied by Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India .“ The chief electoral office decided it will provide one wheelchair each in 70 model polling stations and one each at locations where there are over 10 polling stations as well as in critical areas.
As a last-ditch effort, Dr Satendra Singh of University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi University, made a representation to the commissioner for disabilities to use quasi-judicial powers to resolve the problem.
“The last election, both people with disabilities as well as elderly citizens had a memorable experience thanks to availability of enough wheelchairs. Supreme Court guidelines clearly list out steps to enfranchise voters with disabilities and this should not be seen as a charitable effort. When 2,600 wheelchairs have been provided in the past, why can't the same be done on February 7?
When Stephen Hawking visited last time, the ministry of social justice and empowerment and Archeological Survey of India constructed temporary wooden ramps in one night to make monuments in Delhi accessible,“ Singh said.