The Hindu

Metro stations not disabled-friendly: PIL

CMRL directed to reply in four weeks

- Legal Correspond­ent

The Madras High Court on Friday sought the response of Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) to a plea to make all its metro stations physically-challenged friendly. Vaishnavi Jayakumar, cofounder of mental health NGO, The Banyan, had made the plea in public interest.

Justices M.M. Sundresh and R. Hemalatha granted four weeks to CMRL to file a comprehens­ive counter-affidavit to the PIL. Advocate Jayesh B. Dolia took notice on behalf of the CMRL after stating that the stations were already physically­challenged friendly.

However, in her affidavit, Ms. Jayakumar asserted that the existing metro stations had been built in violation of the provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabiliti­es Act of 2016, and that CMRL was continuing to design and build new stations in utter violation of the law.

The litigant lamented that public transport system in the city remained far from being universall­y accessible, despite enactment of legislatio­n such as the Persons with Disabiliti­es (Equal Opportunit­ies, Protection of Rights and Full Participat­ion) Act of 1995.

She said making the transport system universall­y accessible would enure to the benefit of not only the physically and mentally challenged but also senior citizens, pregnant women and people suffering from temporary mobility issues.

The petitioner pointed out that metro stations in the city lacked several key structures or features such as anti-reflective flooring contrastin­g with the wall colour and non-slippery floors in wet or dry conditions with a resistance of 40-70.

Similarly, there were no wheel-chair accessible ticket counters with audio induction loop for users of hearing aids. Accessible kiosks for the visually challenged and wheel-chair bound passengers and sliding doors for toilets were also absent.

Ms. Jayakumar sought a direction to CMRL to make all its stations comply with the harmonised guidelines and space standards for barrier-free built environmen­t for persons with disabiliti­es and elderly persons.

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