Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar

NEW DELHI: Samarthyam, National Centre for Accessible Environments, which has been working for the promotion of “Mobility for All” including people with disabilities, has in a letter to Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit demanded that only low-floor buses with a height of 40 cm be introduced in the Capital as the new bus queue shelters have been designed according to these dimensions.

Arguing that the low-floor buses can easily be boarded by everyone including senior citizens, physically disabled, pregnant women, children, people with temporary ailments such as fracture or hidden ailments such as arthritis, heart problems or asthma, people with heavy luggage and others with reduced mobility,

Samarthyam has urged the Government to reconsider its decision to purchase 1,000 semi low-floor buses that have a height of 65 cm and would be difficult to board for many.

Samarthyam executive director Anjlee Agarwal has written that on June 1 the Delhi Government had decided to place an order for 1,000 semi low-floor buses that have a height of 65 cm from the floor level. She said it was pointed out that these buses would ply on narrow roads and are being procured because the bus manufacturers were not being able to deliver the requisite number of low-floor buses ahead of the Commonwealth Games next year.

Urging the Government that only low-floor buses be purchased, Ms. Agarwal said that it would also be in conformity with the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995, and Union Government’s decision to make all future infrastructure user-friendly.

‘Not many buyers’

Stating that the semi low-floor buses would not be able to attract many people due to their height and the “one plus one” step, Ms. Agarwal also questioned the justification of purchasing these semi low-floor buses that cost about Rs.15 lakh less than the low-floor buses. “With semi low-floor buses, we would be going backward instead of moving towards inclusion,” she cautioned, urging that the decision be reviewed for the larger public good

Delhi Transport Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely had recently said that the semi low-floor buses are also disabled-friendly as they have a hydraulic system to help them tilt to a side and also have the provision of a steel ramp to help wheelchair users board the vehicle. He had also assured that their purchase was a one-time measure and the need of the hour as enough low-floor buses were not available for immediate purchase.