Government of India to make access features mandatory for state & inter-state buses

D.N.I.S. News Network- In a landmark move that could revolutionize the passenger bus travel across India, the Union Transport Ministry, in consultation with the State Transport Ministers, has prepared a notification that would require city and inter-state buses, run by private operators and state-owned companies, to meet minimum safety and comfort standards, including providing access to disabled people, before being given a permit to ply on the road.

For millions of disabled people, the notification would mean a deeper penetration of the idea of access and universal design besides allowing dignified travel by the most used mode of transport that has up to now remained relatively untouched. Thus fulfills one of the demands of the disability movement for implementing provisions of the decade-old Disability Act, which calls for non-discrimination by mandating the re-designing of public buildings, rail compartments, buses and aircrafts among other things.

The guidelines, which would be issued under the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, would also create accreditation boards both at the national and regional level that would certify buses that meet the new norms. As many as 50,000 new buses hit the Indian roads each year.

Delhi Transport Minister approves pilot project for disabled-friendly bus terminal

D.N.I.S. News Network – In the continuing dream roll for disabled citizens in the National Capital, so far as announcement of disabled-friendly transport infrastructure is concerned, the Delhi Government has announced a pilot project for constructing an ultra modern and accessible bus terminal at Hauz Khas.

Delhi Transport Minister Haroon Yusuf approved the pilot project at a presentation recently by the Managing Director of Delhi Transport Corporation (D.T.C.), A. Majumdar, and immediately sanctioned the funds needed for the project.

The blueprint for the project that would suit the low-floor buses recently introduced has been prepared by Samarthya, Centre for Promotion of Barrier-Free Environment for Disabled People in association with Sabala ActionAid. The project has also seen involvement of Indian Institute of Technology Professors Dinesh Mohan and Geetam Tiwari, School of Planning and Architecture students Nitin and Sudipto, D.T.C. General Manager V.K. Bhatia and Manager (Civil) Ranga.

Among the disabled-friendly features that the Hauz Khas bus terminal would have is a sound system that would allow a blind person to hear a recorded voice beckoning people towards the location of the bus stop from as far as 30 feet. The path way will have guiding tiles implanted on the sidewalk for direction to blind commuters. It will also have ramps for easy access.

Further the buses will have speakers on board that would issue announcements stating the destination and route number of that particular bus. At present there are about 5,000 bus stands in Delhi of which only about 2,600 have bus shelters.

Why are there no disabled-friendly cars on Indian roads? Asks National Human Rights Commission

D.N.I.S. News Network- In a much needed move to address the brazen neglect of design and production of passenger cars for disabled people, the National Human Rights Commission (N.H.R.C.) has asked the Central Government as to “why there were no disabled-friendly cars on Indian roads?”

The Commission has asked the Ministry of Heavy Industries Secretary to comment on a complaint that car manufacturing companies, even those in the public sector, have stopped making vehicles for disabled people. According to a news report, a wheelchair user had filed a complaint with N.H.R.C., arguing that car manufacturing companies and the government have the social responsibility to manufacture disabled-friendly vehicles. Taking cognizance, the Commission asked the Government to comment on it.

The issue has surfaced at a time when the National Capital is abuzz with the 8th Auto Expo that showcases the best of the automobile industry in India. It can only be termed as unfortunate that the high-profile event highlights the lack of sensitivity on the part of manufacturers catering to one of the world’s fastest growing car market, as there are almost no disabled-friendly models either in production or in conception phase.

Maruti Udyog Limited used to make a Maruti 800 automatic and sell it only to certified disabled people. However, since the car was subsidized, its black-marketing became rampant. The state-owned company instead of working with the government in strengthening the system against malpractice, decided to stop production of the car itself. In the ongoing International Automobile Exhibition, Solio, a variant of Maruti Wagon R, with special disabled-friendly features like provision to carry wheelchairs and rotating driver’s seats, is on display. But as any disabled driver would tell, space in the boot for wheelchair is not the only requirement of a disabled-friendly car.

According to a media report, Ford officials have said that the company was “looking” at launching disabled-friendly car models in the coming years. The company has about 15 per cent market share in the mid-size segment in India, and sold around 27,000 Ford models here last year.

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