CHENNAI: In an open letter to Chief Minister MK Stalin on Sunday, disability rights activists condemned the state government’s recent decision to procure 1,000 buses, none of which were disabled-friendly. The letter expressed disappointment over the government’s lack of measures to make public transportation accessible.
The activists urged Stalin to ensure public transport is accessible in terms of vehicles and infrastructure. They charged that the secretary of the department of transportation had announced -- in the presence of Stalin -- only disabled-friendly buses would be procured for cities, in the mofussil, and in rural areas. The assurance had been given to them at the State Advisory Board on Disability meeting on November 24, they added.
“However, betraying the disabled, the government is going ahead with procuring inaccessible buses for them and this will curtail their freedom of movement,” mentioned the letter. The activists further cited that for the last two decades, they have been fighting to make MTC and other transport corporation buses accessible for persons with disabilities.
“Inaccessible public transport not only perpetuates exclusion but also makes a section of society invisible. How can public transport leave some public behind,” the activists questioned. According to disability rights bodies, there are over 16 lakh disabled persons in the state who struggle to commute every day as public transport remains elusive to them. Despite filing petitions in court, it has not yielded any outcome yet, they added.