It took S. Selvaraghavan two hours, travelling by two buses, to get to Anna University from Poonamallee on Thursday evening. An hour later however, the disabled 56-year-old man, who runs a petty shop, sped back on a Scooty-pep retrofitted with supporting wheels, with a smile on his face.
Nearly 45 men and women suffering from various physical disabilities were given retro-fitted vehicles by social welfare minister, B. Valarmathi at an event organised by the department of social welfare to commemorate World Disability Day.
“My back hurts from the bumpy rides on my motorised tricycle. I have to constantly depend on my relatives to get goods for my shop. Now, I can be independent,” said Mr. Selvaraghavan.
Another beneficiary, C. Vijayalakshmi, who works at a hospital, said she was forced to stay near her workplace and away from her family only because it was impossible to commute every day.
“I have already learnt to ride the vehicle. The government has made arrangements for our licences too. Soon, I can move back with my family,” said the 26-year-old wheelchair-bound resident of Veppampattu.
The beneficiaries were mostly from Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram. Government officials said 370 more vehicles will be donated to people across the State soon. “We called for applications and after inspecting the documents and backgrounds of candidates, the social welfare department chose the beneficiaries,” said an official.
The vehicles, costing at least Rs. 60, 000 each, have been retro-fitted with assistive wheels as per norms approved by the government and come with a two-year warranty, he added.
At the same event, 45 laptops were given to students with visual impairment. Commissioner for the welfare of the differently-abled V.K. Jayakodi also participated in the function.