News

Volume 2 Issue 10 - May 15, 2004

Election Commission fails to fulfil SC order

DNIS News Network -- May 10 was a disappointing day for disabled voters. At many polling booths there were no ramps, no Braille list for the visually impaired, and no separate queues.

On Monday, May 10, 2004, interested disabled voters felt left out again. The Election Commission failed to fulfil its promise of providing special facilities for disabled people to cast their ballot. At many polling booths there were no ramps, no Braille list for the visually impaired, and no separate queues.

Disabled people comprise about 5-6 % of Delhi's total population. While ramps were present at VIP locations such as the President's Estate and Nirman Bhawan, at other places they were either too narrow or absent altogether. The ramps seemed to have been hurriedly constructed without any thought for their users: many were either too steep or too slippery to be used. There were no separate queues for disabled people.

A majority of polling booths reportedly had no ramps and at some places earth had been dumped on the steep stairs. The Indira Colony polling booth not only had inadequate ramps but also a narrow doorway, which inhibited the entrance of wheelchair users in particular. At the Katwaria Sarai polling booth a ramp was constructed without using cement: it was simply a pile of bricks and some mud. Wheelchair users felt scared of climbing on the ramps with a fear of falling down. Despite the presence of ramps at the entrance of some booths, accessibility was still a problem for many disabled people as there were further flights of stairs inside. At many places ramps were missing completely. The situation was worst in Outer Delhi and Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha constituencies. Even upmarket South Delhi fell short in its provisions for disabled voters.

Officials at the Vasant Kunj polling station took no time in blaming MCD for not providing adequate infrastructure. A disgruntled voter felt it was a waste of government money, another eyewash.

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