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Friday, 11 April 2014

Old city booths trouble disabled, elderly voters : GURGAON

As multitudes queued in the scorching heat outside the city's polling booths, the physically disabled and the elderly had a tough time casting their votes as a chunk of the 1,816 polling booths had no provisions for ramps or any other form of assistance offered by officials. Overall security arrangements at the polling stations across the city showed laxity on part of the authorities. The booths labeled as sensitive and hyper-sensitive by the election commission have been neglected.

Despite repeated advertisements and announcements that mobile phone would not be allowed at the polling booths, many of the voters could be seen carrying their mobile phones and some were seen messaging and talking on the phone around the polling stations. The voters were not being frisked manually and neither were there any doorframe metal detectors installed at any of these booths .

While some of New Gurgaon's polling booths were disabled-friendly, almost all booths in the old city were not. Voters were seen struggling with their wheelchairs, walkers and crutches, to enter the booths at quite a few places. At the polling booth located inside the Sector 14 community center, physically challenged voters were assisted by their family members to climb the steps in order to enter the booth.

Sarvan Kumar, who helped his physically disabled wife to cast her vote, said, "I was not interested in coming to vote but my wife insisted. Though physically challenged, my wife feels that it is her duty to vote."

"The authorities had claimed that the booths would be disabled-friendly, but it is nothing close to being that," he added.

Unlike many of the booths in the old city, however, the polling booth at Shri Ram School in Moulsari was praised by many of the voters who cast exercised their franchise there.

Dev Dutt Kaushik, the block level officer at the booth, told TOI that over 200 senior citizens and 40 disabled voters had already turned up in the first three hours of polling.

"The building has ramps to facilitate people on wheelchairs to move about. All the EVMs were arranged on the ground floor rooms itself, making it easier for the elderly and physically challenged," he said.

Dharma Moy Guha, an 87-year-old voter, said, "The police officers on duty helped me walk till the booth."

Ratna, his wife, said, "I could not help him walk from our car to the booth on my own, so one police officer and a security guard at the school helped me take him to the booth and helped me seat him back in the car. They are doing a wonderful job."

Wheelchair-borne Sunitra Sen, a Moulsari resident, said she had no problem making her way to the polling booth from her car thanks to the ramps. "I was very excited about the election and I don't know how I would have managed to vote if I had to climb stairs," she said.

"Some of my friends told me that I was lucky to get this polling booth as the conditions at other booths across the city were pathetic," she added.

Source : TOI , 11th April 2014

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