The Delhi High Court has issued notices to the Centre and the Delhi government on a public interest litigation highlighting the difficulties faced by visually challenged students due to lack of tactile paths in most public places or encroachments over it, wherever such paths have been laid down.
A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal also issued notices to the Delhi Police, DTC, the municipal agencies and power distribution companies and also the forest department on the petition moved by student Himanshu Goswami through advocate Vishal Ranjan.
Himanshu, who is pursuing Master of Arts from Indira Gandhi New Open University (IGNOU), in his petition, shared his experience he had while studying in Delhi University where he saw visually challenged students suffering immense hardships due to encroachments on tactile paths.
Before filing the plea, Himanshu did recce of north campus, Delhi University, other certain areas of Delhi such as Tis Hazari, Mathura Road and Delhi Secretariat.
Advocate Vishal Ranjan said there is pressing need for construction of tactile pavements at various public places in different parts of the city.
“Though the statute for the benefit of persons with disabilities has been in existence for a long time, earlier in the form of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995, and now with the new Act namely the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, however, in the absence of effective steps for making the city more accessible to the visually impaired persons, the aforesaid beneficial legislation has remained a mere eyewash,” the petition said.
“It appears that the concept of tactile pavements in Delhi was introduced half–heartedly and no corresponding sensitisation or awareness drive/campaign was carried out by the respondents about it, its use, its dos and don’ts. Further, the introduction of tactile pavement has remained very limited and has been introduced at very selective places,” it said.
The petition mentioned the poor attitude of the authorities reflected in police beats and hawkers encroaching upon the tactile paths in north campus.
“The extent of ignorance of the government authorities can also be gauged from the fact the even bus stops are constructed on the tactile pavements. Not to miss, there are numerous trees as well as electric poles existing on the tactile pavements which directly hinder the movement of visually impaired persons,” the PIL stated, while praying for directions to power distribution companies and the Delhi Forest Department to remove all electric poles and trees from tactile pathways.