The incident happened in Chetpet on Friday, when the elderly man on a wheelchair was waiting for a bus to go to Adyar.

Person on wheelchairRepresentative image /Pexels -Marcus Aurelius
news Human Rights Saturday, June 18, 2022 - 18:00

A septuagenarian person with disability in Chennai has alleged that he was denied entry into a Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) bus at Chetpet on Friday, June 17. Around 9 am on Friday, A Alexander, a 76-year-old man with disability and a resident of Mangalapuram, waited at the bus stop to board a bus to reach Adyar. He wanted to get his wheelchair repaired at a service center located near Adyar. He waited for a bus with seat availability as the first two buses that stopped were crowded with passengers. Later, bus 29C stopped at the bus stop, and he tried to enter the bus as it had enough space. But the conductor of the bus allegedly stopped him from entering and asked him to wait till 11 am. So he waited for the next bus to arrive, but to his despair, the conductor of another bus 47A also allegedly denied him entry and asked him to wait till 11 am even though this bus also had ample space to accommodate him. 

“One of the conductors asked me to leave the wheelchair behind at the bus stop in order to travel. How can I further commute to reach the place after I get down from the bus? On another bus, the conductor refused to let me in and said four passengers can stand in the space occupied by my wheelchair. Conductors tend to ask me where I go for work and tell me to wait till 11 am because the early hours are meant for the students and office-goers,” says Alexander. Later, he took an auto rickshaw from Chetpet to reach Adyar.  

Alexander says seats for persons with disabilities are allocated on every government bus. “There is no point in providing such facilities when the wheelchair users find it hard to step into the buses. People who occupy such seats won’t give the seats to us until they reach their destinations and this was not the first time,” he adds. 

Ravindran, Commercial Manager at MTC, told TNM that the department is looking into this matter seriously. "So far we have seen two news reports that have highlighted the issue. We will inquire about this and take action against the MTC staff who refused to take him on board," he said. 

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“There’s been no change in the mindset of the people and the infrastructure,” says Deepak Nathan, president of the ‘December 3’ movement. This is a movement that works for the rights of persons with disabilities. “The government introduced free ticket access in whiteboard buses in the city for the people with disabilities but where is the physical access? Now, Alexander has paid money to reach the place where he wanted to repair his wheelchair, even though the government gives free ticket access on the buses. This raises the question of who pays the disability cost. Society should reduce such costs and here we don't have inclusive policies,” says Deepak. 

“Now and then, the transport department claims that it has introduced disabled-friendly buses. Where are those buses? On which routes are they being operated? When will the government introduce low-floor buses and wheelchair friendly buses?” asks Deepak.   

“Last week, Chief Minister MK Stalin opened a museum called ‘Anaithum Saathiyam,’ a museum of possibilities for the people with disabilities. But this week, we are seeing a senior citizen who is a wheelchair user, being denied entry into the bus. What is the point of saying that the Dravidian model is inclusive? When the government plans something, it excludes the concerns of persons with disabilities as they are not a priority,” he adds.  

Deepak says laws, rules and regulations are there on paper but what is stopping the government from implementing disabled-friendly infrastructure in transportation. The government should look into this matter and make sure that such incidents don’t recur, he adds. 

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