CHENNAI : Far from improving with each passing election, the arrangements made for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) for polling day on Thursday, fared worse when compared to elections in the past, said PwDs and activists. While booths at the heart of the City had some arrangements in place, at those away from the media glare in Kannagi Nagar, PwDs had to crawl to the booths in order to cast their votes in the absence of wheelchairs.
“I had lost both my legs. I, along with other PwD here, had to crawl to our booths. In the four booths in Kannagi Nagar, not even one had a wheelchair until afternoon. It is only after we threatened to protest that they brought a rusty wheelchair to the booth,” said Balamurugan from Kannagi Nagar. In Kannagi Nagar and Ezhil Nagar, there are around 200 PwD voters, he added.
In booths like PS senior secondary school in Mylapore, makeshift ramps were in place for polling but there were no attenders to drop and pick up voters in wheelchairs from their polling booths. In others, like the Gandhi primary school booth in Perambur and Jai Gopal Garodia school in Anna Nagar, the ramps were too steep for voters in wheelchairs.
The ramp specifications, as mandated by the Election Commission of India, is to have an inclination ratio of 1:12- for one foot in height, the ramp should be 12 feet in length and 1.5 metres in width. Said Prabhu Sha K, a 38-year-old with motor disability, who cast his vote at Perambur, “We were called by election officials at 8pm last night to inspect booths in the area and to check if they were differently abled. Did they not think it was too late to make changes?”