The Madras High Court ordered that all buses purchased by the provincial government for public transport comply with the Disability Rights Act 2016, the 2017 legislation and the 2016 harmonised spatial guidelines and standards for an accessible environment for persons with disabilities published by the Centre. The board accepted Advocate General R. Shunmugasundaram`s argument that the provisions of the 2016 Act and the 2017 Regulations would not apply to buses purchased before the Act came into force, noting his contention that the Government did not intend to override the 2016 Act, statutory regulations or harmonised directives. After reviewing his affidavit and hearing arguments from the applicant`s lawyer and the A-G, the judges stated that their interference would go so far as to order that the fines comply with the 2016 Act, the rules contained therein, the harmonised guidelines and the orders of the Supreme Court. Of the 642 buses that would be allocated to the MRC, 242 (37%) would be low-floor buses. In addition, it was decided to purchase 500 electric buses, of which 100 low-floor electric buses were to be allocated to the MTC. He also said a technical committee had identified the routes taken by most people with physical disabilities by bus. Ms. Jayakumar had filed the PIL petition to challenge a government order dated February 24, 2021 to purchase only 10% of low-floor buses.
She argued that there can be no alibiism when it comes to universal accessibility and that all government buses must be designed differently for people with disabilities, as every person with a physical disability has the right to accessibility. 500 electric buses will be purchased by the government. | Photo credit: The Hindu According to the minister, the government had decided to buy new buses for transport companies across the state with financial support from a German bank. The acquisition was to be carried out in five stages and it was decided to purchase 2,213 buses in the first two sections, of which 642 were to be allocated to the MTC. First Chamber of Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Judge N. Mala ruled on a public interest lawsuit filed by disability rights activist Vaishnavi Jayakumar in 2021, ordering the government to also follow Supreme Court orders on the issue of December 15, 2017 in Rajive Raturi v. Union of India. The transport minister also pointed out the huge cost difference between regular buses and low-floor buses, telling the court that a regular diesel bus costs about 22 lakh, while a low-floor diesel bus costs about 90 lakh. He pointed out that the cost of a low-floor electric bus was around 1.5 crore. The committee was composed of officials from the MTC, Greater Chennai Corporation, Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, the Director of the Municipal Government, the Director of Disability Protection and the Director General of Highways. It took note of the results of a survey concerning the demand for low-floor buses on certain routes.
In an affidavit filed in court, Transportation Minister K. Gopal said not all government buses could be turned into low-floor buses in one piece because of poor road conditions and the possibility of rainwater entering the buses. He said 37 percent of the new buses allocated to the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) in Chennai would be low-floor buses. According to the survey, 55 low-floor buses are needed in the cities of Tiruvottiyur, Tondiarpet and Royapuram, where about 5,000 people with physical disabilities use public transport. Similarly, 31 buses were needed on the Sholinganallur, Adyar and Perungudi road, 28 on the Kodambakkam road, Valasaravakkam and 32 on the Ambattur (Anna Nagar) road. July 09, 2022 12:30 P.M| Update 13:40 IST – CHENNAI In addition, it was determined that 30 buses would be needed in Manali, on the Madhavaram road and 22 on the Teynampet, Alandur road. During the Technical Committee meeting, the MTC had submitted a motion to modify 956 bus stops in the city of Chennai to make them accessible to passengers with disabilities, and the Committee also discussed the feasibility of conceptual bus stop options.