Volume 3 Issue 9 - May 01, 2005

No subways for disabled people in New Delhi

DNIS News Network - Lack of funds, sensitivity and awareness in planning and architecture, have barred disabled people and the elderly population of the city from using subways, pushing them out on the roads to fend for themselves.

While the Capital is turning to new options to make the city disabled friendly, one sector which still needs a lot of attention is subways. Most of the subways in the city do not have ramps and are inadequately lit making it impossible for orthopaedically and visually disabled people to access them. The result: these disabled people are forced to brave oncoming traffic and speeding buses while crossing any major intersection.

While city planners seem to have lacked sensitivity and awareness, hospital authorities are not far behind. The prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has a subway with a ramp and two public toilets flanking the entrance as well as the exit! No patient is willing to jeopardise his/her health further by inhaling the stench of urine just to get through a subway.

Right across the road from AIIMS is the Safdarjung Hospital. Here, the subway has a ramp, which is completely useless. Not only is it narrow and steep, half way through it is barred off with iron gates. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital does not have proper lighting in its subways, making it impossible to make your way through even in broad daylight.

Subways in other commercial areas like Dilli Haat, Connaught Place and Defence Colony are also completely inaccessible to disabled people. The subway at ITO has a ramp at the entrance and steps at the exit!

While hospital authorities blame the NDMC for the irregularities, NDMC officials state that the subways were built much before any building laws for the disabled were in place. “We cannot redesign the subways, as it would be very costly,” said an official.

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