With Tamil Nadu going to Urban local body polls on Saturday, People with Disabilities (PwD) are at a loss as several polling booths in the state are not accessible to them.
During the Assembly polls, the Election Commission of India (ECI) had ensured all facilities for the disabled.
Activists and organisations working among PwD are disappointed over the “callous” attitude of the State Election Commission despite several petitions on providing adequate facilities to this category in polling booths.
Deepak Nathan of a December 3 movement, an organisation working among PwD while speaking to IANS said: “According to section 11 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, both the ECI and State Election Commission (SEC) should ensure that all polling booths are accessible to persons with disabilities and all materials related to the electoral process are easily understandable for and accessible to them”.
He also said that there are 21 types of disabilities and to ensure that they vote without hesitation, authorities should have published the facilities available for them at booths and stakeholders. The activists complain that nothing has been done till the last hours of the election for the people with disabilities to vote in a hassle-free manner.
M. Soudamini, a person with locomotive disabilities from Teynampet in Chennai while speaking to IANS said: “I went around a few booths to study if the facilities, including ramp, are there but was disappointed that nothing has been done to provide us facilities to vote.”
She said that the SEC has forgotten that the rights for people with disabilities have been ensured in the Constitution. Soudamini said” “It’s really sad that in these modern times, everyone knows their rights and still we are being left out. I am complaining against this injustice to all the necessary forums.”
Disability Rights Alliance (DRA) member and consultant for the ECI Smitha Sadasivan said that she had written to the SEC but there was no proper response.
With urban local body polls set to commence on Saturday morning, the poor facilities provided to the people with disabilities is a matter of concern and it is to be seen as to what facilities will be made available for them in the next few hours.