Ministry order on disabled-friendly Delhi buses lacks crucial details
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has announced that buses in Delhi must be disabled-friendly from March 2020. The amendments specified, however, lack any mention of low floor buses although this is mandated by the Supreme Court.
Priority seats, signs, places to secure crutches/canes/walkers, and controls at priority seats are among the disabled-friendly facilities Delhi buses must have from March 2020. So says the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. Amendments to this effect have been notified to the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 as well.
All Delhi buses to be disabled-friendly from March 2020
This means from 1 March 2020 all buses in Delhi must have facilities for disabled passengers or passengers with reduced mobility. These will be checked for proper implementation when buses are inspected for fitness.
“The draft rules to amend the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 were published vide notification…inviting objections and suggestions from all persons likely to be affected thereby”, said the release. “The notification has been issued after duly considering the objections and suggestions received from public in respect of the said draft rules”.
No mention of low floor buses
The initiative to make Delhi buses accessible is certainly welcome, says disability rights activist Nipun Malhotra. His organisation Nipman Foundation has taken up the issue of making public infrastructure accessible for disabled people in a big way. His persistent legal efforts led the Supreme Court to pass the order mandating low floor buses.
The ministry notification says nothing about low floor buses and that is a major issue. Not mentioning this is a violation of the Supreme Court ruling which clearly states that low floor buses have to be there. While it is great the ministry is thinking about accessibility, they should have taken inputs from the disability sector. – Nipun Malhotra, CEO Nipman Foundation
The ministry notification appears oblivious to the larger goals of the Accessible India Campaign or the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act as well. This is not the first such instance either. In 2019 it got flak for its advisory to states that 25% of public transport should be disabled-friendly when the Act states 100%.
Nipun says this approach has hampered the progress of the Accessible India Campaign. “Just mentioning the word accessibility does not make everything accessible. I am hoping that in the next Budget at least things will change, and proper funds will be allocated to the campaign. Otherwise nothing will be done”.