The Delhi High Court has directed civic bodies to ensure continuity of tactile pavement markings so that safe passage for visually impaired persons is guaranteed.
The Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar was hearing a Petition filed by a Delhi University (DU) student Mr. Himanshu Goswami, who has highlighted the difficulties faced by visually impaired people in navigating the city pavements. He has pointed out several obstructions on the roads, including parked vehicles, vendors, police booth and hoardings.
During a recent hearing, the Court took note of the 'Guidelines for Pedestrian Facilities' published by the Indian Roads Congress in May, 2012. It then noted that while all authorities have claimed that their buildings and structures are disabled friendly, this position does not appear to be correct.
The Court further noted that the authorities were trying to shift the responsibility to each other. For instance, while some pavements were claimed to be under the jurisdiction of the Municipal Corporation, others were made the responsibility of the Public Works Department. Further, maintenance of bus stands was thrust completely on Delhi Transport Corporation.
The Court then directed the North Delhi Campus and South Delhi Campus to be treated as the pilot projects and ordered, "The respondents shall file the status reports of the actual steps taken by them in order to make all buildings/installations disabled friendly as well as firm action plans setting out the time lines within which the same shall be completed."
To this end, it directed the Commissioners and Engineers of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation and South Delhi Municipal Corporation to jointly inspect all pavements around these campuses. They are now expected to draw up an action plan in order to ensure that all obstructions rendering these pavements inaccessible are removed. The authorities also need to examine the suggestions of the Indian Roads Congress, which had highlighted the need for integrating commercial activities on the footpaths with the design of the footpath facility.
"If this was properly done the disabled pedestrian would have no difficulty. It is the unstructured, unplanned and hap hazard obstructions which are causing the difficulties," the Court opined.
The Court, further, made it the responsibility of the civic bodies to inform any other authority if the obstruction needs to be removed by them. They were asked to file their reports within six weeks and the matter has now been listed on 6 March.