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Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Differently-abled may face trouble at 11 poll booths

For a smooth and enhanced voter experience for differently-abled voters, a rights activist has submitted a list to the Election Commission of “troubled polling booths” in Delhi, where the differently-abled persons could face difficulties and as such proper steps could be initiated to improve facilities.

Deputy chief electoral officer A.K. Srivastava had called a meeting on January 27 with all the stakeholders to facilitate the differently-abled voters to exercise their franchise without any hassle during the February 7 Assembly elections.

Satendra Singh, RTI activist and professor of physiology at the University College of Medical Sciences, who was present at the meeting, submitted a list of 11 polling booths which had proved troublemakers for voters with disability in the past.

The polling booths identified include Haveli Azam Khan, Chandni Chowk, Booth No. 56 at JNU, Mahroli Assembly, Booth number A-28 in Subhash Nagar, Block 26 Community Centre at West Patel Nagar, Booth numbers 11, 12, 13, 14 in Rajokri, booths at SC/ST training centre, Dilshad Garden.

Usually, special arrangements are made by the commission for better accessibility to the specially-abled voters at the polling booths. The EC had in previous elections also decided to hold officials, who are in-charge of setting up polling stations, accountable for any inconvenience faced by such voters, and had for the first time deputed wheelchairs along with volunteers at each polling station to facilitate such voters.

In the presence of all three commissioners of civic bodies, measures taken during the last year’s Lok Sabha elections to facilitate such voters were reviewed and it was decided to repeat the same as they had proved successful.

Mr Singh said he asked the government agencies such as ministry of social justice and empowerment, Delhi Development Authority and Institute of Physically Handicapped and Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi to provide wheelchairs at the polling booths.

“I have given a list of troubled polling booths which include 11 names from different parts of the capital so that steps can be taken to make them assessable for such voters who often prefer not to step out if such problems persist,” Mr Singh said.

He added: “This exercise to facilitate voters with disability will certainly raise the participation.” During the Lok Sabha polls, Mr Singh said almost 2,600 wheelchairs were provided by the ministry and DDA. This time, institute is expected to provide 400 wheelchairs. “I urge all the government bodies, including the ministry and DDA, to ensure that wheelchairs are in good numbers at the polling booths as measures taken during Lok Sabha elections were appreciated by almost all quarters,” Mr Singh noted.

Source: The Asian Age, 2nd Feb 2015

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