In six months time, all the Metro stations in the City will be provided with ramps to ease the movement of the disabled, the Madras High Court was assured on Wednesday.
When a PIL petition on the issue came up for further hearing today, the counsel for Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) told the first bench of Chief Justice M N Bhandari and Justice N Mala that disabled friendly structures will be provided in the ongoing projects and the new ones. The same will be retrofitted in the already constructed stations within six months, he added.
Recording the submissions, the bench adjourned the matter by six weeks.
City resident Vaishnavi Jayakumar, claiming herself as a cross disability rights advocate (living with psychosocial disability) with over a decade’s work in fighting to dismantle the physical and attitudinal barriers that confront disabled Indians repeatedly, had filed the PIL petition in 2020.
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The petition prayed for a direction to the CMRL to forthwith retrofit its existing metro stations to comply with the Harmonised Guidelines and Space Standards for Barrier Free Built Environment for Persons With Disabilities and Elderly Persons issued by the Ministry of Urban Development in 2016 and to strictly comply with Section 41 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 read with Rule 15 of Rights of Persons with Disabilities Rules, 2017 in the design and construction of metro stations under construction, including stations planned in the future.
She contended that CMRL had violated the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 by failing to construct its stations in Chennai in compliance with the law. Its stations had been audited in 2017 and found non-compliant of the rules and law and till date no steps had been taken to bring the stations and other infrastructure in compliance with the law.
The stations posed a barrier to persons with disability and needed to be made compliant without further delay. The TN State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities had failed to act despite being aware of the violations committed by the CMRL. It had not retrofitted its existing stations in compliance with the law. The State Commissioner had failed to see that unless metro stations are made compliant with the law, persons with disability and reduced mobility will not be able to travel with dignity and freedom.