BENGALURU: Prajwal B (25) is being denied a driving licence because he is an above knee amputee. He says he is comfortable riding scooty without additional wheels, but the RTO does not recognise him as a driver as the rules suggest disabled people should only ride in ‘invalid carriage’ vehicles.
He, however wants to ride a regular scooty, which he is comfortable with. As per the Rule 126 made under Section 52 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (as amended in 2002) the prototypes of all vehicles including the one for the disabled, should be approved by the Pune-based Automobile Research Association of India, otherwise no modifications on any vehicle can be permitted and one has to use a vehicle in the same shape and design as supplied by the company. This puts an undue restriction on the persons with disabilities and takes away from them their right to free mobility.
The Cabinet has recently approved the motor vehicle (amendment) bill 2016, which suggests to facilitate transport solutions for Divyang, the bottlenecks have been removed in respect of grant of driving licences as well as alterations in the vehicles to make it fit for use of Divyang.
Right to Drive
G N Nagaraj, President of Karnataka State Disabled and Caregivers Federation says, “I hope that the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Bill is passed and that the authority won't consider all disabilities equal. If a disabled person is able to do any task like an abled person, the services should not be denied to them. Under this provision, a rule should be implemented about the issue of driving licence too, with the approval of authority. He is above knee amputee in left leg. Riding scooty does needs more of works by hands and also right leg. The scooty does not usually need the use of left leg much. He should be asked to give trials, extra if required and if he does well, he should not be denied a licence.”
Accessibility to Public Space
Prajwal says the accessibilty to public spaces is also a problem. “I recently went to Switzerland for Cybathlon. Though I love Bengaluru, I did not feel like coming back to Bengaluru after seeing the facilities and easy access to places there.” It was initially difficult for him to access the public toilets as they are not maintained well. The passage are too narrow. “It is very difficult for people using a wheel chair. I see a woman in my neighbourhood using her wheelchair on the road to go to college. There is no separate pathway for them to use. She finds it very difficult to travel in the midst of the traffic”
Also, the Persons with Disability Act 1995 states universal design for the public spaces and accessibility but has no provisions in cases they are violated. Nagaraj adds, “No one is penalised for the violations. Even the new buildings by the government are not made, abiding by universal designs. The colleges do not teach the engineers or the architects about the universal designs. A time frame should be given to make all the public spaces accessible.”
Prajwal lost his left leg to bike accident in 2009 when he was just 17. “I was depressed and would avoid people I knew as I did not want to be bothered by their questions of what happened to me. I did not want to answer. I wanted to start a new life. I realised I want to get into graphic designing and studied diploma in animation.”
As he was also always inclined towards sports, he also took up body building as he could opt for static movements. He won the state level body building tournament last year. “I was always into sports but my parents would not encourage me into extra curricular activities. They wanted me to score high and settle with a government job.”
Prajwal now works as a gym trainer at a gym in Indiranagar and as freelance graphic designer.